A baby found unresponsive with a blood alcohol content of .033 before his death could have been sedated by as little as one teaspoon of spirits.
But whether alcohol contributed to his death remains to be see as little research has been conducted into the affects of alcohol on babies, according to a toxicology expert.
Baby Shorn was taken to hospital by his father on November 1, 2008 after he was found unresponsive and not breathing properly in his cot at 530am.
He died two days later when taken off life support.
A blood sample taken at 11.50am the day he was admitted revealed a significant amount of alcohol in his system.
But that concentration may not have been fatal.
A coronial inquest is attempting to determine what contributed to the baby’s death and how the alcohol got into his blood.
Baby Shorn’ father, whose identity has been suppressed, told police he had given his son formula only at 10pm the night before he lost consciousness.
The baby’s mother and primary career had been admitted to hospital on October 30 with cesarean scar complications.
It was the first night the new father had spent alone with his son.
Toxicology expert David Joyce told the inquest although the .033 reading at 11.50pm was not necessarily fatal, it indicated there may have been a fatal concentration in the baby’s blood earlier.
“We can simply say it might have been,” Dr Joyce said.
Based on the baby’s weight and the alcohol concentration at 11.50pm there would have been about 1.2 grams of alcohol in his body at that time, he said.
“It would take around about a standard teaspoon,” of spirits, or 3.7 millilitres, he said.
But back-calculating to determine what the baby’s intake of alcohol could have been if he was given something with his milk 10pm the night earlier was a guessing game, Dr Joyce said.
“The depth of evidence is so shallow,” he said.
“It’s still very approximate guessing.”
Dr Joyce could only say confidently that slightly less than a teaspoon of alcohol was in the baby’s blood at 11.50pm, which would have been lower than the concentration at 5.30am.
He said if intoxicated the baby would have “become quieter”.
“It may settle off to sleep more easily,” he said.
But if “over sedated” the baby could stop breathing properly or be unable to move if it rolled face down onto its pillow.
Coroner Evelyn Vickers said giving a baby a teaspoon of alcohol, “would seem to be a very small amount to people in the community”.
The inquest continues.Follow WAtoday on Twitter
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