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Headcorn: Flu claims life of Joelle Hughes' baby daughter

By Claire McWethy

A one-year-old girl who never woke up after being put to bed one night died from influenza, it has emerged.

Now Lulabelle Snow Hurst’s devastated mother is urging parents to ensure their children get the flu vaccine so no one else has to endure the same agony.

Heartbroken Joelle Hughes, from Headcorn, made the plea on her Facebook page, saying: “We finally have the answers behind Lulabelle’s death.

One-year-old Lulabelle Snow Hurst died suddenly in her bed
One-year-old Lulabelle Snow Hurst died suddenly in her bed

“I’m relieved but also devastated something so simple can easily be prevented which is exactly why I feel this is vital to share this on my Facebook.

“Lulabelle’s post mortem has come back showing influenza, she went to bed with no symptoms so it would have been the very beginning of the flu.

“It’s likely she developed respiratory problems while she slept.

"Please I beg people when the winter months come, go to your GP and book your children in for the flu vaccine.

"Lula’s tiny body just couldn’t cope and resulted in her being taken from us far too early.”

While the NHS nasal spray vaccine is not licensed for babies and one-year-olds, it is routinely offered to children aged two, three and four or to younger children with underlying health conditions such as severe asthma or diabetes.

Joelle Hughes
Joelle Hughes

The effects of influenza in young children can range from mild symptoms disappearing after a few days to a high fever requiring hospital treatment, acute bronchitis, and pneumonia but infant deaths from it are extremely rare.

Initially an inquest was planned to try and determine the cause of Lulabelle’s sudden death, in December, but the coroner’s office confirmed the investigation had been discontinued after natural causes were found to be to blame.

After the tragedy, friends and family raised more than £6,000 to help pay for a fitting send-off for the youngster.

Miss Hughes, a former pupil of Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre in Tenterden, said she was overwhelmed by the donations.

Now a fundraising walk in Lulabelle’s memory is being arranged in Mote Park to raise money for the Lullaby Trust, which supports families who have lost babies and young children.

More than 240 people have signed up, although a date and time are yet to be decided.

  • To join the walk visit the website at tinyurl.com/KMmemorywalk
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