Newborn dies after being born to homeless mother in freezing cold temperatures

The baby's death highlights the tragic lives of Portland’s mentally ill homeless and the current shortage of affordable housing.

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A one day old baby that was born to a homeless woman in Portland, Oregon, died this week, most likely due to being subjected to freezing cold temperatures.

Portland police officers responded to a 911 call about a homeless woman with a newborn walking barefoot through the city. The report states that she was pushing a shopping cart and had opened her coat to show a man the baby. The man called 911 immediately. 

According to reports, the woman, who is mentally ill, had given birth the day before without complications. At least three people who came into contact with the newborn stated that the baby was born alive and was breathing normally. 911 operators sent texts to responding officers stating that the baby “is conscious and breathing okay, but has been outside this entire time.” They also stated that the “baby is ice cold.” Two pediatric emergency room doctors. Dr. Sarah Blackmon and Dr. David Sheridan, who attempted to resuscitate the baby for 25 minutes, stated that the baby was about one month premature, but was not born stillborn.  

However, the medical examiner, Dr. Karin Gunson, stated in her autopsy report that the newborn was stillborn. It is unclear why there are differing opinions on the matter when several people claim to have seen the baby breathing. A full investigation is not necessary if the baby is stillborn.

The mother is a 34-year-old who was described as “very mentally ill” by a responding officer. She was unable to provide details as to where she was from or where the baby was born.

The baby’s death is the 5th in Portland related to homeless individuals living in freezing cold temperatures. It highlights the tragic lives of Portland’s mentally ill homeless and the current shortage of affordable housing.

Rent has increased by an average of 34 percent in Portland in the last 6 years. Karen Lee Batts was a recent victim. Batts was a mentally ill woman that was evicted from her apartment in affordable housing for owing $338 in late rent and died less than three months later from hypothermia due to living on the streets in the middle of winter.

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