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Parental Substance Abuse and Accidental Death in Children

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In this report, the authors present two cases of accidental death in children of addicted parents. In the first case, the child was left unattended at home while the mother went out to buy cocaine. She was arrested and detained with no mention of the unsupervised child. The cause of death in this case was determined to be starvation and dehydration. In the second case, a child mistakenly received a methadone suppository by her father instead of an antipyretic suppository. Toxicological analysis of the femoral blood revealed methadone at a concentration of 1.2 mg/L. The cause of death was determined to be methadone intoxication. The literature is reviewed and discussed. We report these cases to illustrate the risk of harm to children from illicit drugs and prescription medications at home and because there is no mention of accidental death in children following a methadone suppository administration in the current literature.

Keywords: child; forensic pathology; forensic science; intoxication; methadone; substance abuse

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01349.x

Affiliations: Centre Universitaire Romand de Médecine Légale, 9 avenue de Champel, 1211 Genève - 21 Rue du Bugnon, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland.

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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