Washington police issue alarm after 3 babies overdosed on fentanyl


EVERETT, Wash. — Officials are sounding alarms after a baby died and two others apparently also overdosed in the past week in separate instances in which fentanyl was left unsecured inside residences, authorities said.

A 911 caller on Wednesday afternoon reported that a 13-month-old baby was not breathing in an apartment in Everett, the Daily Herald reported. The baby died later at a hospital, according to the Everett Fire Department. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the baby’s official cause and manner of death, officials said.

Last Saturday, firefighters were called to a residence after an 11-month-old was found unresponsive by the parents, a news release from the Everett fire and police departments said. The baby was given the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone before firefighters arrived and provided further medical care, authorities said. The infant was then taken to a hospital and has since been released.

On Wednesday morning, a 911 caller said a 6-month-old baby was having trouble breathing. Arriving firefighters found the infant unresponsive and administered medical care, including Narcan. The baby as of Thursday was in stable condition at Seattle Children’s Hospital, according to the news release.

Investigators don’t believe the cases are connected, police said. They didn’t release further information, including whether anyone has been arrested, because they said the cases remain under investigation.

“The City of Everett is deeply concerned about the increasing fentanyl overdoses that involve young children,” the news release said, adding that misuse of opioids and fentanyl is a growing concern in the state and across the U.S.

Fentanyl is an infamously powerful drug that, in powder form, increasingly has been cut into heroin or other drugs. It has been a main driver of the U.S. overdose epidemic in recent years. Children are especially vulnerable to overdosing, as ingesting even small amounts of the opioid’s residue can be fatal.

In 2022, state Department of Health data shows Washington saw 38 children under 18 die from an opioid-related overdose — more than three times as many as in 2019, The Seattle Times reported. All but one were tied to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to state Department of Health data.

Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. went up slightly in 2022 after two big jumps during the COVID-19 pandemic, and provisional data for the first nine months of 2023 suggests it inched up again last year.

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