Use of prescribed medications while pregnant can lead to a charge of child abuse / neglect

In a case that pits the welfare a pregnant women against the welfare of her newborn child, the Appellate Division recently decided a case in which they affirmed a finding of abuse and/or neglect against a mother for her use of methadone as prescribed  during her pregnancy.  The court found that her use of the medication resulted in an “actual impairment” to the newborn.  The baby experienced withdrawal symptoms and required morphine while in the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital.  It is tragic that the child was affected by the mother’s use of methadone.  However, one must wonder what would have happened to the child while in utero or after birth had the mother not sought treatment.


FAMILY LAW 20-2-0171 New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. Y.N. and P.C., App. Div. (Guadagno, J.S.C., temporarily assigned) (15 pp.) We affirm the finding of abuse or neglect where a newborn suffered severe withdrawal as a result of his mother’s ingestion of methadone during pregnancy. The withdrawal, which lasted 39 days and required numerous doses of morphine and treatment in the neonatal intensive-care unit, was compelling evidence of the “actual impairment” required by the court in New Jersey Department of Children and Families v. A.L., 213 N.J. 1, 22 (2013), to satisfy N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(c).

About Sandy Durst

Sandy Durst, Esq., is the founding partner of The Durst Firm where he heads the Family Law Department. Individuals facing a divorce benefit from the combination of legal skill, common sense and compassion that Sandy brings to each and every matter. Each case is given the personalized attention it deserves.
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