The breastfeeding baby storyline : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

The storyline with the breastfeeding baby didn't sit right with me. It seemed so improbable. If the lady was working 2 jobs, it is doubtful that she would have enogh milk to actually poison her baby. If she did have enough milk, she would have to be pretty adept at expressing her milk or pumping and she would have to know a little about atorage of human milk, in that instance she would have had to have studied a little baout nursing and I am sure she would have learned about how medications can pass through into her milk. Anyway, maybe this is nitpicky, but it seemed more like they wanted to make a PSA, without making the mother out to be an abusive awful mother. Any thoughts?

-- 2222 (, March 24, 2000


I agree with you Rachael. Before a baby is on jarrred foods or cereal, he or she can nurse up to 12 times a day,unless the mother is pumping or giving an occasional bottle of formula.

Working two jobs doesn't have much to do with having enough milk. Once the milk comes in and the baby is nursing or the mother is pumping regularly, you would be amazed at how much is produced.

As a nursing mother, I am glad they had a story line that touched on this area to illustrate that drugs can get into breast milk. Maybe it could have been a mother who took the wrong kind of cold medicine. (The kind that makes you drousy is not allowed when you are nursing) Did they really have to show a baby that died to get this message across? I guess so since it really scared me.

-- Lisa Yasuk (, March 24, 2000.

I think this wassupposed to foreshadow carols departure. This working mother could not handle working,and breastfeeding,and it was her baby who suffered.Carol does not have to jobs,but she has 2 babies.This was done to plant the seed in Carols mind that working like she does could potentially harm her babies.Not in the same way of course,but it was meant to make her question what she was doing,and if she is up to the responsobility,and if it's the best thing for her babies.........The whole episode to me was showing how Carols job was getting in the way of her relationship with the twins

-- (, March 24, 2000.

I have to disagree that just because the mother was nursing her babies, she would know about how drugs pass through the system. She was working two jobs, which implies that she probably is not very wealthy. She probably did not have time to visit the local breast feeding classes or read about it too much. She seemed truly shocked that her milk hurt the baby, and I am sure felt very guilty. I agree that it was partially foreshadowing about Carol, but I also like the fact that it was educational for all women.

-- Sarah (, March 24, 2000.

I think this whole "baby dying from breastfeeding" plot was extremely irresponsible on the writers' part and here's why:

I just did a Medline search on breastmilk plus toxicity (it may not have retrieved all relevant articles, but a search using breastmilk plus amphetamine gave no results)....In summary, here's what I found...

Of the 10 years searched, only one article appeared that directly addressed the use of recreational drugs during breastfeeding (marijuana, alcohol, cocaine and nicotine, I think were the only ones looked at). The main problem caused by these drugs was reduction in the quantity and quality of milk produced. Babies were ingesting components of these drugs, but no obvious illnesses were detected (just subtle behavioral changes - increased fussiness).

One other paper looked at mothers taking prescribed narcotic painkillers such as codeine. Some of the drugs were detected in the babies' blood, but at levels considered to be generally safe.

All other remotely relevant papers were concerned with measuring environmental toxins (dioxins, PCBs primarily).

I just don't think that babies die from ingesting nasty substances passed on through breastmilk (except perhaps HIV). ...Insert standard disclaimers here... I'm not a doctor or nurse, but I'd like to hear if anyone who actually works in an ER has seen such a case - it seems like an extremely unlikely and rare scenario.

feedback please!

-- prn (, March 25, 2000.

Actually, this storyline was hideously incorrect so any "education" being done was incorrect information. While it is true that drugs can pass into breastmilk while nursing, they do so generally in rough proportion to the level in the mother's bloodstream. So, for example, if Momma drinks a few scotches and ends up with a blood level of .012 percent, she is probably more than a little tipsy, but baby will be drinking milk with a lower alcohol content than orange juice. It is certainly not a good idea to take dangerous drugs while nursing, since even small amounts can affect the development of the baby's immature systems. However, there is no way that Momma could have taken so much amphetimines that she could actually raise the levels in the breastmilk to life-threatening levels without seriously overdosing (i.e. enough to put herself in a coma) herself.

-- Kate (, March 25, 2000.

Well, theoretically speaking, the baby COULD have died this way.If the mother was working and taking amphetimines while pregnant this could have cause a subtle cardiac defect in the baby, who then might be more subseptible to the affects of the drug which includes irregular heartbeat. Burst blood vessels in the brain is another one. I do agree though, despite this it is highly unlikely that the mom took enough to have killed the baby, but it COULD happen. But it is also true that this mother could easily have had no idea it was passed on through the breast milk.

-- Danette (, March 26, 2000.

All questions about whether a baby could actually die this way aside, I was wondering if anyone knows if a mother could be prosecuted for the death of her baby through contaminated breastmilk? I felt sorry for the mother and know she had no intention of harming her baby, but the law doesn't always look at intent. What do you think? If Pilar were a real person and her baby died, would the authorities do something?

-- Annie (, March 27, 2000.

Annie: The law (U.S.) does look at intent, esp. in homicide cases. Even in "involuntary manslaughter," a person could not be convicted unless her actions were so reckless that she had to have known someone would die. Behavior so reckless takes the place of actual intent. A good example of this would be getting really drunk and driving down a busy sidewalk . It may not be the ultimate point of the exercise to kill anyone, specifically or generally, but you're held accountable because it's just SO dangerous. If it's true that taking amphetimines led to the baby's death, I don't think it rises to the involutary manslaughter level (even if the amphetamines themselves are illegal), which is the lowest level of criminal homicide.

BTW, I also wouldn't hold my breath for Paul Sobricki to be prosecuted, either. Although it's a slam dunk case for the prosecution, at the time he committed the crime, he was either not capable of determining right from wrong, or not able to resist the impulse. They used to call that not guilty by reason of insanity. Nowadays it's called guilty but insane. Either his wife or the court would commit him to a facility for the mentally disturbed where he'd stay until he could prove that he's competent and no longer a danger to himself and society.

-- dana (, March 28, 2000.

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