Parents charged after 9-month-old boy exposed to suspected fentanyl in Winnipeg home
Pair charged with failing to provide necessities of life, possession of fentanyl for trafficking
The parents of a nine-month-old boy face child-neglect and drug charges after the infant became critically ill upon coming into contact with what police suspect was fentanyl powder inside a home in Winnipeg's North End last week.
More than 10 ounces of powder, or just under 300 grams, was seized by police after the boy was found experiencing "respiratory distress" by emergency responders at a house on Aikins Street around 5:30 p.m. CT on Oct. 18.
The boy was taken to hospital in critical condition, but he has since been upgraded to stable condition and the prognosis is positive, say police, who believe the infant may have become exposed to the powerful opioid but are still trying to determine how.
"Obviously a nine-month-old child is not walking around, typically, and would [not] necessarily have access to something like this or would ever have access to something like this," police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said Tuesday.
A 33-year-old man and 32-year-old woman, described by police as the biological parents, were arrested on Monday and charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life, causing bodily harm by criminal negligence and possessing fentanyl for the purpose of trafficking. They are in custody.
Michalyshen said police are not aware of any other children in the home at the time of the incident.
"As a police service, I don't know what's more concerning when a child is put at risk like this, but I can tell you that these individuals are being held accountable for their actions," he said.
Antidote had 'immediate positive effect'
Michalyshen said someone within the Aikins Street home had called for help, but when emergency crews arrived, "information was not forthcoming" about what the boy may have been exposed to.
Emergency personnel contacted hospital staff when they spotted a "white powdered substance" in the home that they suspected may have been fentanyl, he said.
The infant was then given naloxone — an antidote drug also known by its brand name, Narcan, which is known to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose — and that produced an "immediate positive effect," said Michalyshen.
"Officers were able to quickly identify the potential hazard, notify medical staff, and it was at that point the appropriate medical measures were provided and, quite quickly, the child's condition improved," he said.
"I'm talking about naloxone, I'm talking about Narcan, where it was administered and very quickly the child's condition improved."
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It's not clear if the boy remains in hospital as of Tuesday. Michalyshen would only say the child is "safe and in care."
Police seized up to half an ounce of loose powder and 10 ounces of bagged powder from the home, along with some cutting agent and a contaminated bowl and spoon, Michalyshen said.
Investigators will need laboratory test results before they can conclusively say the powder was fentanyl, he said.
However, police did not take any chances in seizing the powder and accessories. Members of the clandestine lab team, who are specially trained to work in potentially hazardous environments, were sent to the home as a safety measure due to the toxicity of fentanyl.