The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Baby autopsy hints at fatal fall

Siliguri, July 27: The postmortem report of a newborn, who died at Siliguri District Hospital last Saturday, confirms what the parents have been alleging so long.

The cause of death has been identified as “intracranial haemorrhages” a condition resulting out of a trauma (physical injury), like when the head hits a hard surface.

Nayan and Laxmi Singha had alleged that their newborn had died because of negligence. However, a death certificate issued to the parents the next day (Sunday) said the male baby was stillborn. The Singhas, supported by members of Siliguri Welfare Organisation, had filed an FIR at Siliguri police station. Inquiries by the hospital and the Darjeeling chief medical officer of health (CMOH) were initiated.

However, Subir Bhowmick, the CMOH, today said: “It was found that the baby was born with the umbilical cord round its neck. This had led to intense hypoxia (lack of oxygen) resulting in haemorrhage in the brain. We have not found any indications of clinical negligence.”

Though sources in the forensic department of North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, where the post-mortem was carried out, said a complete report would be submitted after a histopathological analysis of the viscera, they confirmed that “intracranial haemorrhages” (See report) could be caused by trauma (physical injury). The autopsy report further says that “on dissecting the scalp, pericranial haematoma was found over the vortex region”. This is the same part of the head — that is, the crown — where external blood clot and bruise were spotted by the Singhas.

A neurosurgeon who did not want to be named said a trauma could occur either in the womb or if the baby was a forceps delivery or “inadvertent” injury to the head. The nature of the bleeding under the scalp suggests that the last of the three had occurred. “The baby appears to have suffered an inadvertent fall, resulting in the injury to the scalp and subsequent internal bleeding,” the neurosurgeon said.

The superintendent of the hospital, Pradip Sarkar, said: “I cannot comment on the post-mortem findings as an inquiry is being conducted by the CMOH.”

Nayan said he will pursue the charges legally. “The report confirms what we were saying all along — that the baby had died after a hospital employee dropped it,” he said.

Police said as of now the case would continue to be an investigation into an unnatural death. “We haven’t yet received the complete autopsy report,” said the Siliguri additional superintendent of police, Rajesh Yadav.

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