Any tragic death from America’s growing crisis with opioids leads to questions, but as an Upstate community mourns the loss of an 11-month-old to fentanyl toxicity they have only one – how could she? She being the baby’s mother, who, along with her boyfriend, now faces criminal charges for her role in the child’s heartbreaking death.

Tragic stories of infants and small children consuming what they find still occur entirely too often in our society. While the official criminal complaint says the infant had access to the drug because it was improperly handled or stored, the county district attorney handling the case believes differently.

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"I Have Never Seen a Baby Die of Fentanyl Toxicity”

An actual dosage of Fentanyl large enough to kill an adult. Credit: US Drug Enforcement Agency
An actual dosage of Fentanyl large enough to kill an adult. Credit: US Drug Enforcement Agency
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Pharmaceutical fentanyl does exist for extreme pain, the most common is illicit fentanyl manufactured outside the US and then added to illegal drugs to increase their potency. Synthetic opioids are responsible for thousands of deaths in New York every year, per the state Department of Health.

According to the DEA, just two milligrams of fentanyl can be enough to kill a fully grown adult. Essentially any amount at all could kill a child. The Onondaga County District Attorney’s office is not revealing how much fentanyl was found in the Syracuse 11-month-old’s system after an autopsy.

A Heartbreaking Suspicion

An example of how much fentanyl it takes to kill an adult. Credit: US Drug Enforcement Agency
An example of how much fentanyl it takes to kill an adult. Credit: US Drug Enforcement Agency
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According to Syracuse.com, Onondaga County District Attorney Fitzpatrick believes the child was given fentanyl by his 31-year-old mother and her 38-year-old boyfriend to get him to be quiet. Chief Assistant District Attorney Melinda McGunnigle said it was the first time she’d seen a baby die from fentanyl toxicity in her fifteen years on the job.

Since the couple was not actively trying to kill the infant when they administered the fentanyl, they will each face charges of second-degree manslaughter as opposed to murder.

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