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Inquest into baby’s death after ‘sleep-deprived’ mother reportedly forgot he was in car for 7 hours

Professor thinks ‘forgotten baby syndrome’ could be to blame.

By Lorna Gray

An inquest will begin tomorrow to determine whether there were physiological reasons behind the death of a 22-month-old boy in 2015.

Judge Sara Hinchley will examine whether the death of Noah Zunde was the result of ‘forgotten baby syndrome’ and whether his mother unintentionally left him in the car, genuinely thinking he was at nursery.

The little boy was found in the back seat of his family's car outside a childcare centre. He’d been there for seven hours when his mother discovered he was not in the centre, where she says she believed she had dropped him off.

Matthew Mundy, an associate professor in psychology at Monash University will speak at the inquest, and says evidence suggest Noah’s mother had forgotten baby syndrome, being affected by other physiological reasons and as a result of being extremely sleep deprived.

She reportedly arrived at the childcare centre to pick him up and was very confused when he wasn’t there.

A childcare worker later said: "I am 100 per cent sure she believed she had dropped him off that morning."

And Dr Mundy said the belief she’d dropped off her son could be a case of “false memory” where an older memory of a previous drop-off had "filled in the blank".

It can take just 15 minutes in an overheated car for a child to suffer life-threatening kidney or brain injuries. When the body reaches 40 degrees, organs can shut down and at 41.6 degrees a person can die.

When the outside temperature is 26-37 degrees, a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to 54-77 degrees, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The inquest will look at opportunities to prevent similar tragedies from occurring.

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