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Manslaughter by breastfeeding

(35 Posts)
meringue33 Thu 10-Apr-14 21:16:15

Did anyone else see this?

Horrific sad

meringue33 Thu 10-Apr-14 21:17:10


meditrina Thu 10-Apr-14 21:19:59

a) this is in USA
b) if your medical condtition means you need to take heavy doses of opiate painkillers, the perhaps you shouldn't be BFing

Cookiepants Thu 10-Apr-14 21:22:57

As above if you have a medical condition/ injury that requires large doses of an opiate, formula milk is available.

As a registered nurse you would think she would be aware of the risks to her child.

Terrible story though sad

thingamajig Thu 10-Apr-14 21:34:54

Did you read the article? The amount she was taking would not normally have caused any problem - in fact morphine/codeine are less harmful to a BF baby than other painkillers.

"Trace amounts of painkiller appear in the milk of women taking codeine or morphine, and a fraction (roughly 10%) ends up in the child – 2 or 3 billionths of a gram – the effects of which are negligible. No morphine-related death from breastfeeding has ever been reported in a peer-reviewed journal"


"Either a massive dose, 50-100 tablets of the type of morphine prescribed for the mother, was administered orally to the baby, or a genetic defect prevented the baby from metabolising the tiny amounts of morphine transmitted by breast milk."

It is an awful story, not because the poor woman was taking meds while breastfeeding, but because either she or the baby had a genetic defect that messed up metabolism. Around 60 % of SIDS cases are due to a genetic disorder - this case is more like that.

LifeHuh Thu 10-Apr-14 21:35:59

On a quick read of the article though the author seems to be saying this is the first case recorded and levels of morphine in the baby's blood weren't consistent with the Mum's dosage. But that various other tests which might have explained how/why this happened weren't done. And if genetic factors are relevant other babies may be at risk.
He's a forensic pathologist so presumably has informed knowledge of what could have been done.
May have missed something as did read through

LifeHuh Thu 10-Apr-14 21:37:11

X post with thingamajig who obviously has read thoroughly!

5madthings Thu 10-Apr-14 21:38:07

What thingamajig said its a wful and horrible that she has been imprisoned because of it. Poor woman.

meditrina Thu 10-Apr-14 21:38:54

How the body metabolises opiates varies enormously. That is why, if the mother needs opiates, BF is contraindicated, because it is notoriously unpredictable. If a doctor OKed it, then s/he is the one who should face investigation.

5madthings Thu 10-Apr-14 21:38:59

Yes he is a forensic pathologist and a dfence witness, sound slike many mistakes wrre made and tests not done.

VivaLeBeaver Thu 10-Apr-14 21:39:43

That's very scary that she's been found guilty of manslaughter. For an outcome which it looks like she could have no way of predicting.

Cookiepants Thu 10-Apr-14 21:54:50

I have seen this story from other newspapers. It seems she hid her pregnancy from her regular doc and hid her pain meds from her obs/gynae doc. I am sure she did not go about to hurt her child intentionally which is why I am sad about the sentence, but she is living in a developed country. She had options which would have removed the risk to her child and made sure she had the treatment she required.

meditrina Thu 10-Apr-14 22:03:32

OTC painkillers which contain codeine contain, in UK, a statement saying they should not be taken during pg or whilst BFing. If she took them anyhow, then it is fair be held to account. (Or is advice different in US?)

But if she was taking them under medical advice (on prescription or following consultation), then the responsibility should lie with the doctors.

meringue33 Thu 10-Apr-14 22:12:41

Can you provide any more links, Cookie?

Cookiepants Thu 10-Apr-14 22:18:11

Sorry they were proper paper papers I was reading at my mums! Just had a quick google and its on the ABC news website.

FrontierPsychiatrist Fri 11-Apr-14 09:17:28

This article paints a different picture:


Maintains that
a) she was a nurse
b) she had chronic pain
c) she took opiates long term, prescribed by GP
d) she didn't see her GP in pregnancy but continued to obtain scripts for opiates by sending her husband to collect them

and crucially,

e) she didn't disclose to her obgyn that she was taking opiates

Opiates are contraindicated when breastfeeding.

Essentially her opiate use wasn't supervised by a doctor. The baby's death could have been avoided.

This is very sad.

meringue33 Fri 11-Apr-14 20:29:43

How horrible sad
She must have been terrified they'd take her meds away - but then why not just formula feed sad
She's lost two babies as well.
I imagine she'll be on suicide watch in prison, plus in isolation for her own protection sad

AchyFox Sat 12-Apr-14 00:48:44

Very sad and weird.

3 years to come to court and none of the relevant tests done that would in all likelihood have absolved her.

Just shows how fucked the jury system is.

edamsavestheday Sat 12-Apr-14 11:14:08

Poor woman. And what a disgraceful miscarriage of justice. Pig-ignorant prosecution.

cakesonatrain Fri 18-Apr-14 19:03:48

I was prescribed codeine when BFing.
I mentioned to the GP that I believed it to be risky, but he said it was fine.
I didn't take them in the end.

TheWomanTheyCallJayne Sun 20-Apr-14 19:09:05

I was prescribed codeine in hospital after my section for a prem baby who I was expressing for.

Patilla Sun 20-Apr-14 19:24:50

Another here prescribed codeine routinely after c section. Handed over to me while bfeeding

Meglet Sun 20-Apr-14 19:28:51

I was told to take codiene while bf after my sections. Although they bunged me up and made me woozy so I stopped.

TheCraicDealer Sun 20-Apr-14 19:35:58

Presumably though if you're on them long-term you'd be on a pretty high dosage as opposed to a first time prescription? Sad story.

FriendofDorothy Sun 20-Apr-14 19:39:32

She was clearly negligent to not be honest with the health professionals who were caring for her.

However, the article clearly states that the amounts of opiates she was taking usually would not have any significant affect on the child, were it not for the genetic defect which converted codeine to morphine.

All opiates say that they are not recommended for use during pregnancy/breastfeeding, however lots and lots of them are prescribed for many reasons. For example, methadone and buprenorphine is prescribed to women who are breastfeeding and yet breastfeeding is still encouraged. Patients with chronic pain are prescribed morphine, dihydrocodeine, codeine etc and yet breastfeeding is still encouraged.

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