Mom accused of abuse gave baby, toddlers ZzzQuil; baby possibly chewed on cigarette butts

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix mother is facing child abuse charges after giving her baby and two toddlers an over-the-counter sleep aid meant for adults.

According to police, Shelby Henrickson's 10-month-old was rushed to Phoenix Children's Hospital and into intensive care on Nov. 4 after she gave him ZzzQuil.

The main ingredient in ZzzQuil is diphenhydramine. The product packaging clearly states that ZzzQuil is just a sleep aid and should not be given to children younger than 12.

According to court paperwork, Henrickson told officers that she not only gave ZzzQuil to her 10-month-old, but to her 2- and 3-year-old children, as well. In an interview with the Office of Child Welfare Investigation, she gave "inconsistent accounts of how much each child was given."

Diphenhydramine was not the only substance doctors found in the 10-month-old's system. Toxicology results revealed he also was suffering from nicotine poisoning.

While it is not clear how the baby boy ingested the nicotine, a doctor who examined him said it looked like he was teething and had been chewing on cigarette butts.

Henrickson confirmed to officers that the child was teething. She also said he had been suffering from a runny nose and congestion. She did not say anything about taking him to a doctor.

According to court paperwork, Henrickson was staying in a hotel room with her three children and their father.

The probable cause statement for Henrickson's cites notes from the Department of Child Safety and the hospital indicating that the baby was fed milk rather than formula, and the milk was not refrigerated.

The baby, who was released from the hospital after 48 hours, and his older siblings are now in the care of DCS.

Henrickson was booked on one count of child abuse, a class 2 felony, and two counts of endangerment, which is a class 6 felony.