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HomeLaura PerrinsLaura Perrins: Maternity leave is sacrosanct. As the death of this poor...

Laura Perrins: Maternity leave is sacrosanct. As the death of this poor baby demonstrates


There was a very sad story from New York last week.  Every mother’s absolutely worst nightmare occurred: Amber Scorah’s baby son Karl died on his very first day of ‘daycare’ as it is known as the US. Karl was just 12 weeks old.

Ms Scorah explains how on returning less than three hours after dropping her son off for his first day at nursery, to breastfeed him, she found him “unconscious, splayed out on a soft changing table. His lips and the area around his mouth were blue, and the daycare owner was performing CPR on him, incorrectly.

“Our sweet son died two and a half hours after the first time I had left him.”

Ms Scorah did not want to leave her son so soon: “I wanted to be his caregiver longer, until he was a bit bigger. I could see how our time together in this early infancy was of so much value, how being with me every day made him more and more comfortable navigating his new environment. I noticed how he looked to me to learn things and make sense of his world. I could tell how safe and secure he felt. Though it was a hard and tiring time, every minute with Karl felt like an investment in his current and future well-being. Not to mention I was hopelessly tickled with him.” But she felt she had no choice.

Ms Scorah does not know if it was something at the daycare facility that caused his death, or not. But her anguish is only made worse by the fact that she will never know. The family is now campaigning for greater paid parental leave in the US.

I could bang on about how this is the result of the feminist onslaught on mothers, haranguing them back to work before they or their children are ready but I will not. Ms Scorah felt she had no choice but to return to work so soon because of the lack of parental leave in the US.

Instead, let’s find some common ground. Although I would prefer if Britain had retained maternity leave and not abolished it for paternity leave, now that we have the wonderful gender-neutral paternity leave for give and take about 12 months (not all of it paid), it should remain non-negotiable.

Any attempt to whittle this down or shame a mother or father from taking it should be – mmm – what is the phrase – ‘called out’ as being not only stupid but anti-child. I am looking at you Alice Thomson at The Times, who told British mothers they ‘shouldn’t be so smug about time off’ caring for their infants.  Caring for your baby is now considered ‘smug.’ Nice.

We should also realise that daycare/nursery care is not adequate care for babies under 6 months and should be avoided if at all possible. It is a fact you will not read in the mainstream media that SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) occurs three times more often in daycare.

Finally, policy-makers should stop pushing day care as some sort of educational super system for kids. A new study from Quebec shows that although there are some learning benefits there are also serious negative behavioural effects of a universal childcare programme.

The Scorah family’s campaign page is here:

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