Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Antihistamine overdose killed baby, Hillsborough authorities say

TAMPA — A 5-month-old boy died last month after spending the day with a babysitter. No one was sure why.

Weeks passed before an autopsy could be completed.

Now, evidence points to an overdose of a common antihistamine, according to documents filed Friday in Hillsborough Circuit Court.

De'Arron Deshazier died Aug. 1. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the cause to be intoxication by diphenhydramine and said the manner of death was "homicide (medicated by other person)." The baby also had obstructed airways, the documents state.

The drug is an ingredient in many over-the-counter medications, including Benadryl, Nytol, Sominex, Advil PM, Robitussin Night Time and Sudafed PE Severe Cold.

Sominex was found when deputies searched the babysitter's home Thursday, more than five weeks after the death, on a warrant obtained upon completion of the toxicology study.

Deputies are investigating how the baby came to ingest the diphenhydramine.

He was at the babysitter's home Aug. 1 for more than 12 hours, from 6:50 a.m. to 7:05 p.m., court records state. Sometime during that period, a caregiver noticed he was unresponsive and not breathing. The 911 call came at 7:05 p.m. The baby was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The medical examiner said the lethal dose had to have been administered within six hours of his death, the court records state.

De'Arron's parents, Akeena Sylvestre and Sharron Deshazier, could not be reached for comment Friday. Nor could the babysitter or her husband. No arrests have been made.

The investigation is very active and ongoing, said Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office.

In interviews, deputies learned that De'Arron had not been sick or displaying symptoms that would warrant use of medication, the court records state.

Diphenhydramine is used to treat a variety of conditions, including irritated or watery eyes, sneezing and runny nose caused by hay fever, allergies and insomnia, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Some parents use it to help children sleep, though opinions vary widely on whether that is safe.

The American Society of Health System Pharmacists says the drug should not be used for that purpose.

James Hillman, a pediatric emergency physician and medical toxicologist at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, said diphenhydramine can be safely given for sleep.

"But I wouldn't make it a daily habit," he said.

He said ingesting high levels could cause symptoms such as rapid heart rate, elevated temperature and agitation. He added that "sufficient overdose can cause symptoms to the point of major disability or death."

De'Arron had 0.13 milligrams of the drug in his peripheral blood, the court records state, noting that a normal dose for a child would only leave 0.02 milligrams or lower in a child's peripheral blood.

Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at or (813) 226-3373. Staff writer Dan Sullivan and news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Antihistamine overdose killed baby, Hillsborough authorities say 09/10/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 10, 2011 1:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Storm routs Cleveland


    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  2. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  3. Rowdies shut out Charleston


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  4. 13-year-old Janessa's father holds memorial service at Rogers Middle School


    RIVERVIEW — About 100 people sat in the tile-floored multipurpose room Saturday at Rodgers Middle School where Janessa Shannon once sat as a student.

    A mourner embraces Nahshon Shannon after the memorial service for Nahshon’s daughter, Janessa, Saturday at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview.
  5. Trump: Aircraft carrier a symbol of America's might (w/video)


    NORFOLK, Va. — With praise and a blessing for the military, President Donald Trump helped hand over the USS Gerald R. Ford to the Navy on Saturday and said the state-of-the-art aircraft carrier will send a "100,000-ton message to the world" about America's military might when it is ultimately deployed.

    President Donald Trump commissions the USS Gerald R. Ford on Saturday in Norfolk, Va.