Mother suffered 'forgotten baby syndrome', death inquest told

A baby's car seatbelt Image copyright Getty Images

A mother was suffering from "forgotten baby syndrome" when her young son died in a hot car, an Australian inquest has heard.

Noah Zunde, who was 22 months old, succumbed to heatstroke after being left in the car for seven hours.

His mother, Romy Zunde, had mistakenly believed she dropped Noah at childcare, the Coroners Court of Victoria heard.

Ms Zunde was sleep-deprived, stressed and dealing with a change in routine before the tragedy, the court was told.

Police did not lay charges. A coronial lawyer recommended that Ms Zunde should not be held criminally responsible.

The inquest into the death in the Victorian town of Kyneton in 2015 is investigating ways to prevent similar incidents.

Expert's evidence

A psychologist told the inquest he believed Ms Zunde suffered a memory lapse called "forgotten baby syndrome".

"If you are capable of forgetting to post a letter, you are capable of forgetting to take your baby out of the car," said Matthew Mundy, an associate professor at Monash University.

"Your memory is limited, it's limited in the number of things you can remember at any given time, and it's limited in the amount of time you can remember a thing for.

"Your brain at the neural level doesn't discriminate between [posting] a letter, a baby or remembering to pick up your mobile phone".

In his opinion the lapse could happen to anyone, he said.

Noah is one of five children within 10 years who have died in Victoria after being left inside a vehicle.

The court was told sensors installed in some cars in the United States alerted parents to the presence of children.

Coroner Sara Hinchey will hand down her findings at a later date.

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