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Toronto woman mistakenly told her newborn was dead

A 20-year-old woman who gave birth on a Toronto sidewalk in subzero temperatures was mistakenly told her baby girl had died – an error that has prompted a review by hospital officials.

The young woman – whose name has not been released – was walking to a hospital around 6 a.m. Sunday because she was feeling ill. The sidewalks were covered in snow and an extreme-cold-weather alert was in effect overnight.

The woman, who was accompanied by her mother, went into labour and the baby was born on the street, in the neighbourhood of Jane and Finch. Emergency Services was called to the scene and the young woman and her newborn were transported to Humber River Regional Hospital's Finch facility.

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Details on exactly what transpired at the hospital have not been disclosed, but Toronto Police spokeswoman Constable Wendy Drummond said it was there the newborn was pronounced dead.

The coroner, as is policy, requested that the two police officers who had responded to the call stay with the baby.

The officers were in a room with the newborn for about 90 minutes, Constable Drummond said, when one of them noticed that a sheet that had been placed over the baby appeared to be moving.

"They investigated a little further and checked for a pulse and, in fact, found one," Constable Drummond said in an interview.

Both the newborn and her mother are now listed in good condition. Constable Drummond said she did not know the newborn's name.

The two officers who were in the room with the newborn declined to speak with reporters.

The hospital offered little comment on, or explanation of, the incident Sunday.

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Gerard Power, Humber River Regional's director of corporate communications, wrote in an e-mail the organization is "reviewing the events of today with the appropriate agencies."

He said he could not comment further due to privacy laws.

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