Toronto Star

Sep. 13, 01:00 EDT

Police investigating death of 6-week-old boy

Children's Aid had released baby into mother's care

Dale anne freed
Staff Reporter
Toronto Star

Toronto police detectives and Ontario's deputy chief coroner are investigating why a healthy 6-week-old baby boy died suddenly of dehydration and gastroenteritis two days after he was released into his young mother's care.

The woman has not been charged in the child's death, but homicide detectives are monitoring the situation, Deputy Chief Coroner Jim Cairns said yesterday.

The child had been apprehended at birth by the Children's Aid Society. He was released to his mother's care by family court on Friday under stringent conditions.

He was found dead before 9 a.m. Sunday in a one-bedroom ninth-floor apartment on Wellesley St. E.

Before the child was released to his mother, he was examined by a doctor for the Children's Aid Society and declared healthy. In family court, it was determined the mother could get the child back, providing she followed certain conditions.

She was required under those conditions to leave her Toronto apartment on Wellesley St. E. and live at her aunt's home outside Toronto, Cairns explained.

Authorities meeting on the case today will be examining why the mother didn't follow the agreed conditions and what circumstances led to the baby's death.

Cairns said an autopsy showed the child died of dehydration and gastroenteritis, an irritation of the stomach lining that causes diarrhea, fever and vomiting.

A virus is the most common cause. To recover, children must stay well hydrated.

The child was healthy when handed over to the mother, in the presence of the aunt, with the expectation they were going back to the aunt's home, Cairns said.

"We know that did not happen. Instead, she went to an apartment in Toronto and the child was found dead on Sunday morning," he said.

"We're investigating what caused this child to die ... what treatment he did and did not get, and we're investigating the circumstances between Friday night and Sunday."

The death is one of a cluster of suspicious deaths of children younger than 2 currently being probed, Cairns said. "In the last three weeks, I've spent full time consulting with police and various experts on the death of six children."

The mother of the 6-week-old has two other children who were removed from her care previously, sources told The Star yesterday.

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