Woman admits to drug use while pregnant, booked on negligent homicide count after child dies from birth defect, police report _lowres

Jerasha Bowman, 36

A Baton Rouge woman whose alleged drug, alcohol and tobacco use contributed to her infant baby’s birth defect has been arrested on a count of negligent homicide after the 5-month-old baby died in January.

Jerasha Bowman, 36, gave birth to the baby on Aug. 31 in an emergency procedure because of placental abruption, a serious birth complication that occurs when a fetus separates from the placenta, according to a Baton Rouge Police report.

The baby suffered from “various medical problems,” homicide Detective Bryan Ballard wrote in the report, including Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (or HIE), a set of neurological issues caused by a lack of oxygen and nutrients, before dying on Jan. 16.

Bowman’s blood work at the time of the birth tested positive for cocaine, the report says, and she admitted to detectives she drank alcohol and used tobacco and cocaine during her pregnancy.

“Cocaine use is a contributing factor to placental abruptions,” Ballard wrote in the report, noting that the resulting neurological issues triggered by the lack of oxygen and nutrients is listed as the preliminary cause of death.

“It is logical to conclude that since (Bowman’s) actions were all contribution (sic) factors to the placental abruption, which caused the child to suffer and later die from HIE, the child died as a result of (Bowman’s) negligence,” Ballard wrote.

Catherine Heitman, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Children and Family Services, said in an email the agency received a report on Sept. 1, the day after the birth, that Bowman tested positive for cocaine at the birth.

“The Louisiana Children’s Code … includes prenatal neglect as a form of abuse or neglect,” Heitman said. “Physicians are mandated reporters of abuse and neglect and must make a report to DCFS when an infant meets the criteria for prenatal neglect.”

Bowman is being held at Parish Prison in lieu of $15,000 bail.