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A couple days ago, the unthinkable happened to a young mother in Ohio. Just before midnight, Taylor Franklin, 19, stepped outside her apartment to smoke a cigarette, and when she came back in the house, she found a bottle of pills spilled on her kitchen floor -- and her 11-month-old son crawling nearby.
She screamed for help, and the baby was rushed to the Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, but doctors were unable to save him. The baby died shortly after 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, two weeks before his first birthday.
While investigators won't know for sure what killed the infant until laboratory tests are complete, the cause of death seems sadly obvious. Franklin's baby likely succumbed to a lethal overdose, and it's the kind of accident that reminds us all how quickly an innocent situation can turn turn into every parent's worst nightmare.
A police report says the medication may have been Nifedipine, a drug used to reduce blood pressure, which Franklin was reportedly taking to prevent early labor. A police officer reported he saw the pill bottle and noted it had a screw-on cap instead of the childproof variety.
Now, there are some elements of this story that sound a little unusual, to be sure. There's the mother's young age, combined with the fact that she also had a newborn and two other young toddlers in addition to the 11-month-old, which makes you wonder just how frazzled she was feeling that night (and was she pregnant again, or was the medication for the newborn's birth?). There's the question of where the medication was being stored, since Franklin told officers that the pills were on top of a microwave oven that was on a low table, but still they somehow ended up on the floor. There's also the confusing relationships between the people involved -- Franklin lives with her boyfriend, not the baby's father, yet the baby's father and another woman who calls herself the baby's stepmother were all there.
Still, regardless of the circumstances, the bottom line is that this was a terrible, terrible accident. When my children were little, I put all medications in a locked cabinet, but I can still imagine how easy it might be to forget about a recently-filled prescription, or to temporarily place it somewhere where I might have thought there was no way a baby could get to it.
It's a sad reminder that mobile babies get into everything, and they're capable of so much more than you imagine. They can open drawers, fish through purses, and climb tables in no time at all.
While it might be tempting to wonder what this mom did wrong, the real story is that this kind of thing could happen to anyone, unless the proper precautions are always followed to a T. In fact, according to the CDC, more than 60,000 children are taken to the emergency room every year as the result of getting into medications.
As a friend of Franklin said,
I feel so sad for her. I wish I could see her and make sure she is OK. She is a good mom. She is never in trouble. She does everything a mom is supposed to do.
I feel incredibly sad for her too. What an unspeakable price to pay for learning a lesson in childproofing.
Have you ever caught your child getting into any medications or toxic substances?