Rock Hill mom who tested positive for drugs after giving birth faces unlawful conduct charge

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comMay 22, 2013 

Kristian McManus

A Rock Hill mother turned herself in to police on Tuesday, three months after she tested positive for drugs before giving birth to her newborn son, authorities say.

On Feb. 22, the York County Department of Social Services contacted police, informing officials that Kristian Le-Ann McManus, 22, tested positive for opiates and benzodiazepines, a class of drugs that affect the central nervous system and are used as sedatives and muscle relaxers, according to a Rock Hill Police report.

Five days earlier, McManus had to be awakened in order to give birth to her son because she had taken the drugs, the report states. After the boy was born, McManus was unable to stay awake and could not focus or answer questions by hospital staff.

The baby also tested positive for drugs in his system, said Rock Hill Police Executive Officer Mark Bollinger. DSS took McManus’ son from her at the hospital.

Police this month issued an unlawful conduct toward a child warrant for McManus and entered her into a national crime storehouse as a wanted person, the report states.

On Tuesday, McManus arrived at the Rock Hill Law Center and said she was aware of her warrant after receiving a letter from a detective, according to the report. McManus spoke with the detective by phone last Friday and agreed to turn herself in after her DSS-supervised visit with her child.

McManus was jailed and charged with unlawful conduct toward a child. She was released from jail Tuesday afternoon on a $3,000 bond.

Cocaine, opiates, marijuana and other illicit drugs commonly pass through the placenta to the baby during pregnancy, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Seizures, fussy behavior, sleeping problems, trembling, vomiting and several other symptoms can result.

But arrest and prosecution aren’t necessarily effective in curbing pregnant mothers from using drugs while they’re carrying, said Lynn Paltrow, founder and executive director for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

Instead, she said, it deters them from coming forward with the truth about their own drug addiction.

“What is she being punished for, coming to term? If she hadn’t given birth, she wouldn’t have been arrested,” Paltrow said.

Neo-natal abstinence syndrome, a host of problems that can develop in newborns exposed to illegal or prescription drugs while in utero, can be treated and cured, she said.

“Even if you can’t overcome your drug problem, you can have a healthy baby,” she said. “If you’re afraid of arrest, you won’t come to the doctor about the truth.”

The message, she said, shouldn’t be “come in for health care and we’ll have you arrested.”

It should be “come in for help ... we support you,” she said.

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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