Crime

Mother charged with neglecting baby

A Kennewick mother is accused of neglecting to properly feed or care for her baby, causing the boy to be half of his optimal weight at 9 months old.

Rebecca L. Rosenkranz told investigators that her son began losing weight despite eating regularly, and claimed he was active and would scoot, roll and “army crawl,” court documents said.

The boy was severely malnourished, had “visible ribs” and weighed only 9 pounds when admitted to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland in February.

A 9-month-old boy should weigh between 18.2 and 21.1 pounds, according to data from the World Health Organization

Doctors told police that the boy didn’t have muscles built up to sit without support or to perform normal baby activities, and that the mother “demonstrated an inability to adequately care for her child” during the Richland hospital stay, documents said.

When told that her son had significant developmental delays because of the alleged neglect, Rosenkranz denied that anything was wrong with the boy and said he doesn’t like performing tests for strangers, documents said.

Rosenkranz, 23, is charged in Benton County Superior Court with second-degree criminal mistreatment with a domestic violence allegation.

She has pleaded innocent and has a Nov. 9 trial date.

Rosenkranz is free on her personal recognizance. It is not known what contact the mother has with her son, or if he remains in her custody, while the case is pending.

Rosenkranz reportedly stopped breastfeeding when her son was 5 months old because he would eat constantly and she didn’t feel she was giving him what he needed.

She told Kennewick police Detective Jose Santoy that she switched to infant formula and would feed the boy eight ounces about every five hours. He started to lose weight despite eating, she said.

Court documents show the boy weighed 13.4 pounds when he was just over 4 months old in early October, and 11.16 pounds two months later. The boy’s pediatrician, Dr. Paolo De Vera, referred the mother to a specialist in Spokane, but she allegedly failed to follow through with an appointment.

On Feb. 12, a public health nurse notified De Vera that the boy had lost four pounds over four months and now weighed just over 9 pounds. The pediatrician then contacted Rosenkranz and told her to take her son to an emergency room.

Dr. Stacey Hedlund, who treated the baby at Kadlec, noted that he was doing well eating 7 to 8 ounces of food by spoon and took formula well from a bottle. Hedlund said the boy’s lack of social interaction and “lack of nutrition will have a long term impact and will more likely cause him to have developmental delays,” court documents said.

Dr. Kevin Marsh on Feb. 16 noted that the baby could lift his head when placed prone and push up a little with his arms, but was unable to sit on his own and would make no attempt to roll over, documents said.

“In my opinion, this child has suffered severe neglect and should not go home with these parents,” he wrote.

Doctors reportedly could not find any medical diagnosis for the baby’s failure to thrive. He put on 2.7 pounds during his one-week hospitalization.

Multiple nurses also noted that during the hospital stay, they would try to wake Rosenkranz and remind her to feed her son and she would not do it, court documents said.

Child Protective Services got involved in the baby’s case and, when a social worker met with the mother, Rosenkranz claimed a nutritionist with Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) had told her the boy would eat when he is ready and not to force it, documents said.

Detective Santoy asked the mother on Feb. 26 if she was experiencing things in her life during the hospitalization that would cause her to neglect her baby.

“I might have without knowing,” Rosenkranz responded, adding that there are times where she loses track of how long the boy has been in his crib, according to court documents. She said he would be in there for approximately six to seven hours, and she knew “that is way too long.”

The mother further told Santoy that the baby is only out of his crib during feeding times, which is four times a day, documents said.

Rosenkranz reportedly separated from the boy’s father late last year. She said she was her son’s sole provider during his weight loss, and claimed that both sets of grandparents were rarely involved.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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