Dec 2 2009 By Siba Matti
POLICE are today investigating reports that a mother accidentally smothered her four-week-old baby daughter to death after she fell asleep while breastfeeding.
Crew on a United Airlines jet were alerted by the 29-year-old mother's screams, prompting the flight from Washington DC to Kuwait to be diverted to Heathrow Airport last Tuesday (November 24).
The little girl was taken to Hillingdon Hospital, in Pield Heath Road, Hillingdon, where she was pronounced dead at 10.35am.
Scotland Yard say the death was being treated as 'unexplained' and no arrests have been made.
A spokesperson said: "Police were called at 9.58am on November 24 to reports of a baby taken ill on a United Airlines flight from Washington DC to Kuwait.
"A post-mortem examination took place on November 27 at Great Ormond Street Hospital and we're awaiting the results.
"The death is being treated as unexplained and the child abuse investigation team is investigating the circumstances.''
He said this was standard practice.
It is understood the girl's Egyptian mother was on her way to Kuwait to visit relatives.
Janet Fyle, the Royal College of Midwives' professional policy adviser, said the tragic case was a "salutary lesson''.
She said it was not appropriate for mothers to breastfeed their children in airline seats as there was a risk of them falling asleep.
"We're not saying women cannot breastfeed while flying," she said. "The issue we have to get across is that it's not breastfeeding that's the problem, it's the chair.''