Prosecutors Say Drugs In Mother’s Breast Milk Killed Baby

Pennsylvania prosecutors claim a woman caused her 11-week-old son's death by breastfeeding him while using drugs.

Samantha Jones
Bucks County District Attorney's Office / AP Images

Pennsylvania prosecutors claim a woman caused her 11-week-old son's death by breastfeeding him while using drugs.

In Pennsylvania, Bucks County prosecutors have charged 30-year-old Samantha Jones with criminal homicide. They’re saying she killed her 11-week-old son, R.J., by breastfeeding the child while using drugs. CNN reports the child died due to a “combination of fatal drugs” that he ingested through breast milk.

The Bucks County Deputy District Attorney Kristin M. McElroy stated Jones could face a murder charge with a mandatory life sentence.

Louis Busico, Jones’ attorney, said she “absolutely, unequivocally loved that child” and never meant to harm him.

KTLA 5 states that Jones told police she heard R.J. crying around 3. a.m. on April 2. He was normally breastfed, but she had started using formula because she was concerned he wasn’t getting enough milk. But she was too tired to make a bottle of formula so she decided to nurse him. Then she fell asleep on and off for the next few hours.

Earlier, her husband, Vincent McGovern, had made a bottle of formula before he left for the day. Jones says she remembers feeding R.J., putting him back in his bassinet around 6:30 in the morning, and then going back to sleep.

Jones says she woke up about an hour later and saw that R.J.’s skin was pale and that he had bloody mucus coming from his nose. She and her mother, who also lived in the house, called 911 and began CPR. R.J. was transported to the hospital by EMS, and pronounced dead at 8:30 a.m.

The autopsy showed traces of methadone, methamphetamine, and amphetamine in R.J.’s blood and according to experts, this contributed to the child’s death. Jones told police she has been prescribed methadone since her pregnancy to help with her opioid addiction. The bottle and the can of formula that was used to feed the child were tested for traces of drugs, but nothing was found.

breastfeeding
Jones is just one of several recent cases where women have been charged with the death because harmful drugs were in their breast milk. Pavel Ilyukhin / Shutterstock

Since Jones’ arrest, her attorney commented on her mental state saying she is “completely in a state of depression.” He also went on to add that the arrest kicked her when she was down and already dealing with the death of a child. He declined to comment on her drug use.

Jone’s preliminary hearing was set for Wednesday.

According to Reuters, this is the latest case in a series of mothers charged for the deaths of their children after they breastfed them while having methamphetamine in their system. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, methamphetamine is used by over 12 million people in the United States. The use of it during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, heart and brain abnormalities, and other health problems.