Doctors were stumped when five babies struggled to breathe at a German hospital. Then came urine tests, a police probe, and a painful find: breast milk mixed with morphine in a syringe in a nurse's locker at the University Hospital of Ulm. Now the nurse has been arrested and accused of poisoning the five infants with morphine, the New York Times reports. The babies—all premature, up to a month old—were taken to intensive care in December when their breathing became troubled and eventually stopped. They were saved at ICU, but what caused the problem? Doctors guessed an infection, but urine tests found morphine in all five of them, though only three had been prescribed the drug.
That's the twist: Morphine is prescribed to help newborns of drug-addicted moms, but leads to breathing problems. In this case, the fact that all five had respiratory issues at the same time in the same ward, and only three had morphine prescriptions, rang enough alarm bells to bring in the police on January 17. Now the nurse will likely face five charges of attempted manslaughter and grievous bodily harm, but she denies everything, per the Guardian. Authorities say she has no known motive and is being psychologically evaluated. "It is only thanks to the quick and immediate actions of the hospital staff the lives of the five infants could be saved," said the health of Ulm police. All five are expected to recover without health problems, notes CNN. (Another German nurse was found guilty of killing 85 patients.)