Indian American mother accused of drowning baby

Houston: A 30-year-old Indian American pharmacist, suffering from postpartum depression, allegedly killed her one-year-old son she hated by drowning him in a bathtub.

According to police reports, Neha Patel, of Florida allegedly drowned her infant son Ishan on February 16, then wrapped him in a blanket and went on a 13-hour drive through Florida, including the Tampa International Airport, where she intended to jump from the parking structure.

According to the Polk County Sheriff`s Office, from the day her son was born, Neha said she hated him and the hatred reached a fatal level on that day, when she first slapped him and then purposefully left him alone to drown in a bathtub half full of water. When she returned 10 minutes later and found him unconscious, she refused to perform emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation, even though she knew the procedure, the sheriff`s office said.

Patel had reportedly been diagnosed with postpartum depression but was apparently not taking her medication, according to police and media reports. When Patel returned home at 2 AM the next morning, she told her husband Rasesh Patel, a quality assurance manager at JP Morgan in Tampa, that Ishan was dead, handed the lifeless body to the father and again drove off in the car, telling her husband she planned to kill herself.

Neha was arrested that afternoon at the Tampa International Airport, sitting in her car on the fourth floor of the parking structure. She is being held without bail in a medical dormitory at a county jail, according to Carrie Eleazer, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff`s Office.

Health Department spokeswoman Pam Crain said post-partum depression, which is a chemical, hormonal imbalance, can be moderate to severe shortly after giving birth, and affects 10 to 15 per cent of women.

Symptoms include negative feelings about the baby, irritability and anxiety. "It`s something that is treatable and certainly it`s something that if a woman is having any thought of harming themselves or their baby, they should seek help immediately," Crain said.

Patel told investigators she was home alone with her son that day, and slapped him when he tried to crawl towards her. She later put him down for a nap, and when he woke up, she left him alone in the bathtub, which was half full of water.

Finding him unconscious, she refused to perform CPR or call 911, instead dressed the child and drove to the parking lot of a nearby supermarket, then returned home, police said.
She then further drove around with her son. She told detectives she knew her son was dead while she was driving with him because he was "blue" and "cold".

Rasesh Patel called police in the evening to report his wife and son missing, saying she suffered from depression and hadn`t been taking her medication, Eleazer said.

Neha came home between 2 and 2:40 AM the next day and was confronted by her husband who then found the child was dead. She became angry when she heard her husband calling relatives and before driving off she told him she didn`t want to go to prison and was going to kill herself, according to the sheriff`s office. Neha drove to the airport, where she was arrested.

Neha had been working as a pharmacist in North Lakland, but quit her job on February 12. Patel`s in-laws had been living with the couple after Ishan`s birth, but left on February 15. "We think she might have been waiting until the parents left to kill the baby," said Eleazer.

In her confession to police, Neha did not cite postpartum depression, but instead expressed her animosity towards her son, who was born prematurely and spent four months in the hospital before coming home.

The Patels also have a four-year-old daughter who showed no signs of abuse, according to Eleazer. The little girl, who is not being named, was at day care when the incident occurred.

Rasesh told police that his wife had been diagnosed with PPD but was taking her medication erratically, and had threatened suicide several times before she killed Ishan.

A seminal study, `Immigrant Asian Indian Women and Postpartum Depression,` published in 2007 in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, concluded that 28 per cent of Indian American women suffered mild symptoms of postpartum depression and 24 per cent suffered major symptoms.