Mom Pleads Guilty in Drunk Breast-Feeding Case: "BWI" Prosecutions Ahead?

By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on June 24, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

So a ground-breaking case (and I use that term loosely here) in North Dakota has just about run its course. Stacey Anvarinia, 26, pleaded guilty to felony child neglect after breast-feeding her baby while drunk, or "extremely drunk" to be more specific. Lest anyone start to worry however, this type of drunk breast-feeding offense is probably not going to be high on prosecutors' and cops' radar, particularly considering the circumstances of the case.

Cops in Grand Forks were initially called to Anvarinia's house on a domestic disturbance call involving her boyfriend, where they noticed Anvarinia was slurring her speech and breastfeeding at the same time. So they double-checked with a hospital, and confirmed that, nope, breast-feeding while intoxicated is "not good" for a child. So they notified the breast-feeding mother, who mind-bogglingly continued to try and do it, landing herself the aforementioned charge.

Anvarinia clearly had an extreme case (and thus, her plea), but does a breast-feeding mother automatically cross the line into criminal "child neglect" by having a drink? Probably not, and the reality is that prosecutors are probably won't either (1) try, or (2) be able, to do much in a case with circumstances unlike Anvarinia's. Although many recommend the obvious, that nursing mothers should abstain from drinking altogether, some literature suggests that drinking may have no effect on a baby's health depending on the amount, and the time separating the consumption of alcohol and breast-feeding. As far as prosecuting child neglect/abuse based on breast-feeding while intoxicated (BWI?), it seems far-fetched in any but the most extreme cases.

Hopefully for both Anvarinia and her child, she has gotten any needed help and the child is in good hands. From a brief search, it is unclear whether the state intervened with her child, although that certainly is not unusual in cases of child neglect/abuse or where parental drug and alcohol abuse is involved. In extreme cases where no other provision is available for a child's care (e.g. another parent or family member), states can seek the termination of a parent's rights in court, which can lead to foster care for a child.

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