2-year-old swallows Xanax, mother lies about it to the medics

2-year-old swallows Xanax, mother lies about it to the medics

Exposing a child to an environment in which controlled substances are ingested, produced or distributed, is a felony.

In a bizarre turn of events, a two-year-old ingested two Xanax pills and had trouble breathing. When the medics came to help though, the mother lied about it.

Stephanie Diane Burkhalter, a 21-year-old woman from Altoona, Alabama was arrested for chemical endangerment of a child and child abuse on 12 December 2016. According to the release by the Sheriff's office of Etowah county, medics were called because her 2-year-old child was having difficulty while breathing. She told the medics that the child had received some treatment earlier in the day. She refused any further treatment from the medics.


Stephanie then asked her neighbour to look after the child and went out. Meanwhile, the condition of the baby worsened and was rushed to the hospital. There, she admitted that the child had not received any medical treatment earlier, but had ingested two Xanax pills.

Xanax is a potent anti-anxiety medicine, not generally recommended in children. People who take Xanax may develop a dependence for it. In other words, it has an addiction potential. It is almost never prescribed for a 2-year-old baby.

How did the baby come across Xanax?

This is a question that has not been answered. But one can speculate that Stephanie was somehow involved in the event. If she had witnessed the baby accidentally putting a xanax in the mouth, she could have sought immediate medical attention. How the baby ingested the second Xanax in her presence, only you can guess. However, the fact that she kept it to herself raises a lot of questions.

Why do mums medicate children?

Most of the mothers would not rush to medicate the child unless he is very ill. Even then, they would consult a doctor before doing so. But there are some mothers who may have a temporary lapse of judgement and end up endangering the life of their children. We often come across stories of women involved in driving under influence with the baby in the car. Many end up shaking their babies in frustration and cause permanent damage or even worse.

The reasons could be the mother's altered state of mind. The pressures on a mother are high. These can often lead to a temporary or a permanent lapse of judgement. A child that cries, refuses to sleep, does not listen to instructions, throws tantrums may cause the mother to hurt her child. Most often, these mothers have little to no help raising the kids. One should watch out for warning signs in such mothers.

How to stop accidents like this

Incidents like this can happen to anybody, even when you are careful. It is possible that your child may accidentally ingest something that may be noxious for him. Or he might just bring out a fit of rage in you by behaving like a difficult person.

Here are the things that every parent should keep in mind for the safety of the child.

  1. Keep the things meant for adults locked. When I say 'things meant for adults', I mean everything that is not meant for a child: coins, keys, paints, alcohol, sharp instruments, tools, medicines, pulses, oils, match-sticks, mouth wash, floss, detergents, coffee, perfumes, mobile chargers, to name a few. Just ask yourself one question: is this meant for my child? If the answer is no, lock it.


Children would put everything in their mouth. So limiting their access to dangerous things is half the battle won.

2. Do not medicate the child without asking the paediatrician. Internet has given us an access to a lot of information. But not all information is correct. So, resist the temptation to be an internet doctor and ask your doctor before giving any medication to your child. Most of the drugs are not tested on children. So resist the temptation to test it on your child.

3. Keep your cool. If you feel that your toddler is being difficult, try and take some guilt-free 'me' time. Many times, parents end up acting in rage and the consequences are disastrous. Join a support group. Don't let the pressure build up. You will be surprised how effective these groups are.

4. If an accident like this happens, rush your child to the emergency department. Don't wait like this mother. Keep your child awake, ensure that he is breathing and give a CPR if he is not. If he has allergies, let the medics know. What matters at the end of the day is the safety of the child.

Back to the story

The mother, Stephanie Diane Burkhalter, is in the police custody. Not much is known about the well being of the child, however there is also no adverse news.


Story and image sources: Etowah County Sheriff's office, WVTM 13

Also read: How much do you know about child safety?

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Written by

Anay Bhalerao

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