Does Breastfeeding While Intoxicated Endanger The Infant?


Stacey Anvarinia, 26, was arrested last February for child endangerment. The arrest stemmed from a domestic disturbance call to her home in Grand Forks, N.D. where the police found her drunk and breast feeding her 6 weeks old infant.

Anvarinia has pleaded guilty to child neglect, a Class C felony. She has been sentenced to 12 months, six of which have been suspended. She has been given the option of spending part of her sentence in an abuse treatment facility.

Anvarinia’s arrest has stirred a debate about the fairness of her arrest. Is breast feeding while drunk a crime? What harm can be done to the infant?

On one side are those who feel that the scientific evidence is not available to show breastfeeding during a single episode of intoxication is harmful to the baby in any way. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) considers limited consumption compatible with breast-feeding, but cautions that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness and abnormal weight gain in an infant.


On the other side are those who feel like Dr. Svetlana Kogan, founder of The Doctors at Trump Place in Manhattan who commented on the case on Fox News: "Scientific evidence points to the fact that even a little bit of alcohol can harm an infant--even a glass of wine."

I tend to side with the AAP, but there is a great difference between one glass of wine and being drunk or drinking to the point of impairment. The later puts the infant at risk from more than simply breastfeeding while intoxicated. Note some of the other activity described by officers who arrested Anvarinia in the Grand Forks Herald article.

Hahn said that, during the incident, he saw Anvarinia shake the baby girl, hold her without supporting her head and, at one point, hold her upside down by one leg. Under questioning from the defense, he said he does not know of any injuries the child suffered during the incident.

The parent still needs to be alert and aware enough to care for the infant. This including alcohol consumption or postoperative pain medications, etc. The discussion needs to include all of the aspects of the infants safety not just the breastfeeding while intoxicated portion.

Grand Forks Herald
American Academy of Pediatrics