Newborn Rock Hill baby placed in emergency custody, mom suspected of heroin use

Hours after a Rock Hill infant was born in his mother’s home because she does not “believe” in hospitals, he started “shaking and shivering,” police say, the result of possible drug withdrawals after authorities learned his mother allegedly had been using heroin while pregnant.

Officers placed the newborn in emergency protective custody Monday while an investigation continues. By Tuesday evening, no charges had been filed.

The boy was born at about 3 p.m. Sunday. About three hours later, deputies were sent to a home off Twin Lakes Road after receiving word of an assault, according to a York County Sheriff’s report. The mother’s brother told police he and the baby’s father began fighting after he confronted the new parents about them not taking the newborn to the hospital. The baby’s father, 24, who deputies said appeared under the influence of drugs or alcohol, claimed the brother attacked him.

Because their stories conflicted, deputies did not file assault charges, but did express concern about the newborn’s well-being.

The baby, who had been sent to a neighbor’s house, appeared healthy, the report states, although its 6-inch umbilical cord had been tied off with a bra strap. Paramedics used a sanitary clamp to shorten the baby’s cord, but reported that the infant did not appear to be in any immediate medical danger.

The mother, 21, told deputies that she had not given birth at a hospital because she “doesn’t believe” in them, the report states.

She assured deputies she had been to all her prenatal doctor’s appointments.

By Monday afternoon, the newborn had been admitted into Piedmont Medical Center after Rock Hill Police said the child suffered from possible “drug withdrawals.”

Police spoke with a sheriff’s deputy, who disclosed details of the baby’s at-home birth and explained that the father delivered the infant, according to a Rock Hill Police report. The baby was apparently taken to a grandparent’s house in Rock Hill before being taken to visit with another grandparent in Fort Mill. Police say the infant spent the night at the Fort Mill home with his grandparents. His parents, police say, did not stay over.

Monday morning, the parents returned to the house, where the child’s grandparents suggested they take the child to the hospital because he was “shaking and shivering,” police reported. After speaking with the family, deputies learned the child’s mother had been using heroin while pregnant.

A caseworker with the York County office of the Department of Social Services recommended deputies place the boy in emergency protective custody.

Doctors explained the infant appeared to be suffering from drug withdrawals, according to the police report, but could not confirm if drugs were in his system because he had not undergone a urine test.

By Tuesday evening, police had not collected results of any tests showing if drugs were in the infant’s system.

Police on Tuesday were in discussions with the York County Sheriff’s Office to discuss which agency would investigate the case since the parents live in the county’s jurisdiction, but the child was taken into emergency custody in city limits, said Rock Hill Police spokesman Mark Bollinger.

Heroin use during pregnancy can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome, in which heroin passes to the fetus through the placenta and risks the possibility the baby can be born dependent on the drug, according to the National Drug Institute. Some have argued against that diagnosis, saying there is no conclusive evidence proving using opiates during pregnancy directly correlates with abstinence symptoms.

Women who are pregnant and seek help for their heroin addiction can receive treatment at Rock Hill’s Keystone Substance Center, where expectant mothers in their third trimesters are exposed to methadone at the York County Treatment Center in Fort Mill to help ween off the drug, said Brenda Dawkins, Keystone’s treatment director for adult services. If the woman is in her second trimester, Dawkins said she can be detoxified with hydrocodone.

Many heroin addicts, Dawkins said, have “switched over” to prescription pills and methamphetamine.

“We do everything we can to make sure that the baby is born safe and the least amount of damage is done to fetus,” she said.