A newborn baby girl survived four nights without food or water after her 16-year-old mother left her naked in a garbage can near her Carson home, officials said Tuesday.
The baby, reported in serious condition, was being treated at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for hypothermia and dehydration and was being tested for infections by a team of physicians, said hospital spokeswoman Ilene Schwartz.
“The baby was severely dehydrated so they were lucky it was found when it was,” Schwartz said. The baby’s chances for survival had she not been found when she was “wouldn’t have been very good,” she said.
The infant was discovered Monday afternoon by a 17-year-old relative, who said he found the crying baby covered with trash after his pit bull knocked over the garbage can.
The mother, who attended Avalon High School and has one other child, was detained on suspicion of attempted murder. The young mother, whose name was withheld by authorities because of her age, faces arraignment Thursday. The child was placed in the custody of the Juvenile Court until she recovers and officials decide who should care for her.
Schwartz said physicians treating the infant attributed her survival to warm nights and the insulation provided by the trash.
“A newborn infant doesn’t require that much fluid and is able to rely on its own reserves for the first few days,” she said.
Dr. Regina Brown, chief resident in pediatrics at UCLA Medical Center, explained that newborn babies do not eat much and are born with excess water, which they usually lose several days after birth.
But, Brown said, “It’s highly unusual for a baby to have survived that long,” agreeing that the weather and insulation probably prevented exposure.
Lives With Grandmother
Mary Perkins said her granddaughter’s obesity masked the pregnancy and that when she took her to the hospital last Thursday, she was not aware that the young woman was pregnant. Perkins, who lives in the same Carson home, said she took her granddaughter to the hospital because of excessive bleeding that Perkins attributed to menstruation.
“I didn’t even know she was pregnant until the doctors told me,” Perkins said as she held the young mother’s 20-month-old son in her arms.
Perkins, who had not been to the hospital to see the new infant, said she would take care of her great-granddaughter if asked to but would not volunteer to do so.
“I would much rather for it to be adopted because if (the daughter) doesn’t pull through, I’d have to take care of her, and my hands are full with this one,” Perkins said, indicating the toddler.
Perkins, a widow who lives with her four grandchildren and two friends in a run-down house, said she did not understand why her granddaughter abandoned her baby.
“She should have known that if she had had the baby, that the county would have helped her with it,” Perkins said. “They help people who don’t have anything.”
Jerrye Keeble, a special assistant for the Department of Children’s Services, said the baby will be placed in the custody of relatives, put up for adoption or placed in a foster home.
In the meantime, Investigator Alice Goodsby said, the mother was being held without bail at Los Padrinos Juvenile Facility in Downey. If she is tried as an adult and convicted, she could face life imprisonment. If she is tried as a juvenile, she faces a maximum nine-year sentence.