Police are investigating why a 10-month-old baby stopped breathing twice after being exposed to the opioid fentanyl in Methuen, Massachusetts.
There was drug paraphenalia found in the baby's mother's car, according to police.
Methuen police said they were called to a Treetop Way residence at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday for a report of a baby who was not breathing.
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Upon arrival, emergency personnel immediately began treating the child before transporting her to Lawrence General Hospital, where she stopped breathing twice and had to be revived by hospital staff. The child was later flown to Tufts Medical Center in Boston via MedFlight helicopter and has since been released from the hospital.
Hospital tests indicated that the baby had fentanyl in her system. The type of drug and amount ingested has not been released.
The baby lives with her mother and grandparents in Methuen, according to Michael Quinn, an attorney and family friend.
“There are a lot of questions and they have no answers,” Quinn said.
Quinn says the mother found the baby unresponsive Saturday after a nap and the grandfather started CPR.
The baby’s mother has struggled with drugs, but has been clean for several months, according to Quinn.
“She has no idea how this happened, even before she delivered the baby she was in a program and she has been drug free ever since and that hasn’t changed, she has had negative drug tests the whole time, there hasn’t been anything,” Quinn said. “They are still cooperating with police and whoever wants to talk about it and whatever the investigation shows, they’d like answers as well.”
"It's disconcerting," Methuen Police Lt. Michael Pappalardo said. "It's heartbreaking, to say the least. It's a 10-month-old baby. It's very difficult to deal with a young child that has become a victim."
"The opioid epidemic knows no boundaries," added Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni. "We must continue to be vigilant in ensuring that children do not have access to harmful substances and to do everything we can to fight the disease of addiction."
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid medication that is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. It is often mixed with or substituted for heroin.
Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said his department's focus now is to determine where the drug came from and how it wound up in the baby's system.
No arrests have been made, but police said charges are still possible.
The Department of Children and Families is investigating in collaboration with Methuen Police, Massachusetts State Police and the Essex County District Attorney's Office.
The baby is now in the custody of an aunt. A DCF hearing is scheduled to be held on Tuesday.