A Maryland mother is accused of poisoning her sons with Visine eye drops. Samantha Elizabeth Unger, age 23, admits she intentionally placed the medication in her 3-year-old son’s drink. However, she did not expect her 1-year-old son to share his brother’s glass. Authorities said both children became serious ill as a result of the poisoning.
Although both boys suffered illness, the 3-year-old nearly died. In March, the toddlers were taken to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for treatment. Doctors became suspicious, as the 3-year-old’s urine tested positive for Tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride, which is a common ingredient found in over-the-counter eye drops and nasal spray.
When used as intended, Tetrahydrozoline reduces swelling in the nasal passages and eyes. However, if ingested, it can cause severe illness. Side-effects may include nausea, vomiting, decline in blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. Higher doses can result in coma — or even death.
As a result of the Visine poisoning, Unger’s 3-year-old son suffered dangerously low blood pressure and required weeks of treatment.
Although her son nearly died, Samantha Elizabeth Unger was not charged with attempted murder. Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner explained that an attempted murder charge requires proof of intent.
During questioning, Unger admitted placing the eye drops in her 3-year-old son’s drinks over a period of several weeks. She estimates the child ingested at least one full bottle of the drops.
It is clear that Unger intentionally poisoned her son with Visine eye drops. However, there is little evidence that she expected the boy to die. Furthermore, she contends that her 1-year-old son was not meant to ingest the medication.
Although she avoided charges of attempted murder, Unger was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of children and felony aggravated assault. As reported by MSN, she is currently being held on $50,000 bond.
It is unclear what motivated Unger to poison her son with Visine eye drops. Although she claims she did not want her son to die, she admittedly knew the eye drops would cause illness.
Unger’s behavior suggests Münchausen syndrome by proxy. In MSBP, caretakers intentionally cause illness in their patients, or children, to gain attention. Although causing death is not the primary goal in MSBP, it is often the end result.
It is difficult to understand why any mother would poison their child with Visine eye drops. Thankfully, Unger’s sons have both recovered from their illness.