FARGO – Cass County prosecutors filed criminal charges Thursday against the mother of a 4-day-old West Fargo infant who died last month.
According to charges filed in Cass County District Court, Reanne Rose Pederson, 31, snorted hydrocodone just before breastfeeding her son about 11 p.m. June 13.
While breastfeeding, she placed a U-shaped pillow called a “boppy” around her for support, and fell asleep with the baby.
When she awoke an hour and a half later, the boy was unresponsive.
Pederson initially thought she had smothered the child, according to a police affidavit filed with the charges.
Police previously said the baby died at the hospital June 14 after officers at the scene tried to resuscitate him.
The police affidavit says a West Fargo detective interviewed a doctor who said the effects of the hydrocodone would be substantially heightened by snorting it, and would make the user drowsy and dizzy, with labored breathing.
Having those effects and then immediately thereafter breastfeeding a baby would be very dangerous to the child, the affidavit says.
A witness, Robbie Lee, told a West Fargo police officer that Pederson smoked methamphetamine in the days before delivering her child.
Pederson’s Facebook page on Thursday bore images of the boy, one a prenatal image from late April.
Another showed a chubby-cheeked infant, eyes closed, snuggled in a striped blue outfit. It was posted a week after his death.
“My Avery Keith,” Pederson wrote. “I will hold you in my heart while Jesus holds you in his arms. I love you mister!”
Attempts to reach Pederson through Facebook were unsuccessful, and no phone number was listed for her.
A warrant was issued for her arrest Thursday.
Cass County prosecutor Ryan Younggren said the length of time between the child’s death and the filing of formal charges was appropriate.
“We were certainly reviewing all the information and finding out as much as we could about the case,” he said.
Pederson is charged with a single count of negligent homicide, a Class C felony, and with ingesting methamphetamine, a Class A misdemeanor.
Negligent homicide is the least severe felony charge available in North Dakota in a homicide case, Younggren said.