Report shows Hawaii infant died from antihistamine overdose

July 23, 2019 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — A toxicology test indicates a Hawaii infant who died in the care of a babysitter had nearly double the concentration of an antihistamine in her blood as what is usually lethal for babies, officials said.

A Honolulu medical examiner determined 7-month-old Abigail Lobisch died in February from diphenhydramine toxicity, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

Dixie D. Villa was charged with manslaughter in the child’s death and made her initial court appearance in Honolulu District Court Monday. Villa’s bail was set at $1 million with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Aug. 2.

Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient in Benadryl. Toxicology tests showed diphenhydramine at 2400 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) in the child’s blood.

“The average blood diphenhydramine concentrations reported in fatal overdoses were 1400 ng/mL in infants,” court documents said.

Villa was Lobisch’s babysitter for about four to five months, and the mother left the infant and her 2-year-old son in Villa’s care overnight Feb. 23. The mother told police the baby was healthy before she dropped her off.

Villa and the children spent the day at a pool, and she applied lotion on them for sunburn before they went to bed. She reported the child unresponsive the next morning and tried to revive the baby until emergency responders arrived, records said.

The unattended death was reclassified as manslaughter July 16 after Honolulu police received a Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy report indicating the high diphenhydramine levels.

The antihistamine is used to relieve symptoms of allergy and hay fever. Young children should not be given diphenhydramine without consulting a doctor, the medical examiner’s report said.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser,