A Shelbyville woman who gave birth to a baby that tested positive for drugs will spend at least the next year in jail after pleading guilty Thursday.
Kristine T. Buie agreed to a sentence of three years on the charge of aggravated assault before Circuit Court Judge Lee Russell.
Buie gave birth to a boy on June 1 who had respiratory difficulty and was "very poorly responsive," Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles said.
The infant had to be placed on oxygen and IV therapy and was admitted to the intensive care step-down unit at Harton Regional Medical Center in Tullahoma, Randles explained.
Randles said the baby tested positive for methamphetamine and benzodiazepine (Xanax) as well as the mother
, and a letter was written by the child's pediatrician concerning the mother's drug abuse.
"They concluded that the child was affected by maternal drug use," Randles said. "She (Buie) was interviewed and admitted that two days before giving birth, that she had used methamphetamine and Xanax at a party in Shelbyville."
According to researchers, methamphetamine use during pregnancy appears to cause abnormal brain development in children.
"Methamphetamine use is an increasing problem among women of childbearing age, leading to an increasing number of children with prenatal meth exposure," stated Dr. Linda Chang with the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu.
Brain scans performed on 3- and 4-year-old children whose mothers used meth while pregnant suggest prenatal meth exposure accelerates brain development in an abnormal pattern, according to the online journal Neurology.
Studies have shown that prenatal meth exposure can lead to increased stress and lethargy and poorer quality of movement for infants.
Long-term studies are underway to determine if the brain differences found in children with prenatal exposure to meth will normalize with age, the study says.
Buie was originally charged with aggravated child abuse by Detective Carol Jean of the Shelbyville Police Department, but Randles explained there have been several cases before the Tennessee Court of Appeals that states that "the statute does not apply in these situations because the definition of the word 'child' in the TCA (Tennessee Code Annotated) does not include a fetus."
As a result, the charge had to be amended to aggravated assault, which is a lesser charge, Randles said.
Randles said Buie will become eligible to meet with the parole board after serving 30 percent of the three-year sentence.