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Woman accused of breast-feeding while drunk

BISMARCK (AP) -- A woman accused of breast-feeding her 6-week-old baby while drunk has pleaded not guilty to a child neglect charge in what attorneys believe is the first such case in North Dakota. But the prosecutor says alcohol is not the only ...

BISMARCK (AP) -- A woman accused of breast-feeding her 6-week-old baby while drunk has pleaded not guilty to a child neglect charge in what attorneys believe is the first such case in North Dakota. But the prosecutor says alcohol is not the only factor involved.

Stacey Anvarinia, 27, entered her plea in Northeast Central District Court on Monday. The felony charge carries a possible five-year prison term and a $5,000 fine, said Carmell Mattison, a Grand Forks County assistant state's attorney. Anvarinia is free on bond.

Alcohol consumed by breast-feeding mothers can be absorbed into an infant's system, health officials say. That, along with Anvarinia's inability to tend to the baby, spurred the child neglect charge, Mattison said.

"There are other factors besides alcohol being transferred to the child -- that isn't the sole crux of the case," Mattison said. "She wasn't in a position to care for the child properly."

Anvarinia was arrested on Feb. 13, after police responded to a domestic disturbance call at her Grand Forks home, Mattison said.

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Police witnessed Anvarinia breast-feeding her child and "asked her several times" to stop because she was intoxicated, Mattison said.

While the officers did not test Anvarinia's blood-alcohol level, Mattison said, they "did note that she was extremely

intoxicated."

Mattison said she did not know of another case in North Dakota where a woman was charged for breast-feeding a baby while drunk.

David Ogren, Anvarinia's court-appointed attorney, said he also did not know of another case in North Dakota like it, though he said, "This doesn't strike me as a newsworthy case."

Charges against his client could be difficult to prove. Testimony from police can be used as evidence to prove someone is intoxicated "but generally speaking, if you don't have a blood test, you don't know the amount of alcohol," Ogren said.

Anvarinia has a lengthy criminal record that includes forgery, minor consuming alcohol, theft, driving on a suspended license, disobedience of a judicial order and bail-jumping, court records show.

Kim Hinnenkamp, the state Health Department's nutrition and breast-feeding coordinator, said intoxicated women should not nurse a child.

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"Basically, any alcohol consumed by the mom can enter her infant's body through breast milk," Hinnenkamp said.

"Excessive alcohol intake can affect mom as well as baby," she said. "There can be high alcohol levels in milk, and moms can produce less and infants' sleep and wake patterns can be

affected."

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