Authorities arrested a Pittsburgh mother on murder charges Friday over the death of her infant daughter, who fatally swallowed fentanyl from a sippy cup.
Detectives with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police charged 23-year-old Jhenea Pratt with criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of a child.
Pratt’s 17-month-old daughter, Charlette Napper-Talley, died April 5 after ingesting the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl from a sippy cup at their home in the East Hills neighborhood, according to WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh.
Officers responding to the April incident performed CPR on the infant before transporting her to a local children’s hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Subsequent tests determined the cause of death to fentanyl, leading to Pratt’s arrest.
“Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that fentanyl was present in the baby’s sippy cup, which police found on her bed, and in her system,” officials with the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department said in a statement, according to WTAE.
— WTAE-TV Pittsburgh (@WTAE) August 25, 2018
Pratt is being held at the Allegheny County Jail.
Fentanyl, a painkiller roughly 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, is blamed as the primary fuel of the current opioid epidemic ravaging the country. Only 2 milligrams of the synthetic opioid can cause an adult to suffer a fatal overdose.
The substance is causing drug overdose deaths to surge to record-breaking levels across Pennsylvania. Officials with the Drug Enforcement Administration released data on Aug. 21 showing drug overdose deaths increased by 17.5 percent in Pennsylvania in 2017, claiming 5,456 lives. Roughly 42 per 100,000 people throughout the state die from a drug overdose.
An estimated 67 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the state involved fentanyl or chemical variants of the substance. DEA officials said there is “a persistent and pervasive drug threat in Pennsylvania.”
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials say preliminary data show drug overdoses killed roughly 72,000 people across the U.S. in 2017.
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