A Lavington baby was so severely malnourished by his drug-affected mother that he was left emaciated, his bones sticking out from under wrinkled skin.
Tests on the 22-year-old woman after she, her baby and two other children were taken to Albury hospital showed she had both amphetamine and methamphetamine in her system.
Her baby weighed just 3.18 kilograms when admitted to the children’s ward in the early hours of March 5, barely above his birth weight almost four months earlier of 2.83 kilograms.
The mother, who cannot be identified, pleaded guilty in Albury Local Court on Monday to a single domestic violence-related charge of fail to provide for child, cause danger of death.
But it will be several weeks before she finds out her fate, with magistrate Michael Crompton ordering a full pre-sentence report.
The woman, who now lives at West Melton on the outskirts of Melbourne, was supported in court by two women.
It was revealed there were no initial concerns for the baby in the weeks following his birth on November 10, 2016.
The child was cared for by his parents and his maternal grandmother and was soon receiving home visits by a community nurse.
The first visit when he was 12 days’ old showed his weight had increased to 2.89 kilograms and by December 6, at four weeks, he was 3.24 kilograms. On December 14 the nurse weighed the boy again to find he was continuing to thrive, having hit the 3.4 kilogram mark.
It was the nurse’s final visit to the home, which she found to be clean and tidy. But on March 4, about 11.45pm, Albury police went to the Lavington home in response to a domestic violence report in which the boy’s mother was alleged to be the victim.
Police said in the house were the baby, his parents and his siblings – a 17-month-old boy and a seven-year-old girl.
“While there the officers observed the victim to appear very malnourished, seeing bones under his wrinkled skin and determined the child to be in immediate risk of harm,” they told the court.
The mother told police she was feeding the baby his bottle every four hours, each time putting three scoops of formula into 180 millilitres of water. The officer searched for the formula tin, which showed that she instead should have been using six scoops per 180 millilitres.
By now the house was a mess, with dog faeces found in one bedroom.
A paediatrician commented that the baby – whose weight increased to 5.16 kilograms within a month of going into care – had initially shown “physical signs of serious malnutrition”, including muscle wastage and pressure sores.
The woman will be sentenced on October 23.