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03 December 2009

Woman Accidentally Smothers Infant on Transatlantic Flight

British media sources report that late last month, a woman who fell asleep while breastfeeding her infant accidentally smothered her four-week old child while on a United Airlines flight.

United Airlines flight 982 was a 777 en route from Washington Dulles to Kuwait City, and somewhere over the Atlantic, she reportedly awoke to find that her child had been smothered. Th crew was alerted by to the situation by the screams of the 29-year-old mother.

A doctor traveling on the flight treated the baby, and the aircraft diverted to London's Heathrow airport, landing on the morning of November 25th. The baby was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

An autopsy has been performed and the the authorities are awaiting results. At present, the death is considered to be from unexplained causes, and police and the Child Abuse Investigation Team are investigating the circumstances of the death.

Previous Breastfeeding-Related Death on an Airliner
This recent event was not the first report of suspected breastfeeding accidents on board an aircraft. According to a report in the Hindu newspaper, a child died from a breastfeeding accident while the aircraft was at the gate. On 11 March 2009, a mother and four-month-old child were an Air India Express flight to from Karipur to Salalah, India. The mother and child had boarded the aircraft (Flight 341) at Kochi. During pushback from the gate, the mother started screaming after seeing her baby choke during breastfeeding.

A doctor on board treated the baby, and the child was taken to a local hospital where the infant was declared dead on arrival. A hospital official speculated that death was due to ingestion into the lungs of either breast milk or particles of vomit.

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