Friday 15 December 2017

Injured baby taken from mother who 'smelled of alcohol'

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Nicola Donnelly

An Emergency Care Order has been granted for a baby after its mother "smelling of alcohol and slurring her words" presented the baby at a hospital underweight and with head injuries.

A County Louth court heard that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, believed there was an immediate and serious risk to the child, after the mother gave hospital staff "conflicting" accounts as to how the baby received its injuries.

A social worker said she believed the baby came to harm because the mother was "misusing alcohol".

The court heard the mother told a triage nurse the baby fell from a couch.

However, she then told a paediatric registrar the baby fell 3ft from a chair onto a carpeted floor.

A paediatric registrar said a CT scan of the baby's head showed signs of hematoma, a collection of blood under the skin, caused by trauma.

The baby had swelling to the right side of its forehead and a 2cm bruise below its eye, the paediatric registrar added.

He said the baby did not lose consciousness and did not vomit but was kept in hospital for 24 hours for observation.

"The history and injuries are not consistent with the mother's story," the doctor said.

While he said he did not find any other injuries on the baby, he was concerned with how the mother presented herself, saying she smelled of alcohol and her speech was slurred.

"It may have been an accidental injury but the history is inconsistent," the doctor said.

"It could be accidental or could be a non-accidental injury."

The court heard the baby was noted as being underweight in the clinical notes and the child was presented dirty and unhygienic.

A social worker told the court that it was her opinion that they could not determine what had happened to the baby due to the conflicting accounts the mother had given to staff at the hospital.

She said the baby's father was not able to meet with the mother but he consented to the Emergency Care Order.

"I believe the baby came to harm because the mother is misusing alcohol - whether it was an accidental fall or something more sinister," the social worker said.

The CFA said it had reason to believe there was an "immediate and serious risk to the baby," and an Emergency Care Order was in the best interests of the baby.

The judge, having heard all the evidence, was satisfied there was an immediate and serious risk to the baby were it to be returned home.

He granted an emergency care for under Section 13 (7) of the Childcare Act, for a period not exceeding eight days.

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