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Officials seek mother of baby found dead

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A baby girl found dead in a McDonald's restroom in Harford County Monday night was stillborn, the state medical examiner's office determined yesterday.

The baby, born prematurely at 32 weeks, probably had been dead in the mother's womb for six to 24 hours before the birth, said Lt. Edward Hopkins of the county sheriff's office.

"While we will continue to look at criminal intent, our focus is to find the mother for her health and well-being," Hopkins said.

Sheriff's deputies, who were called to the restaurant by a store manager, found the baby face down in a toilet bowl at 8:20 p.m. An employee discovered the baby in a bathroom stall amid a large amount of blood.

"It is an unfortunate incident," said McDonald's store supervisor Larry Myers.

The restaurant, in the 1300 block of Riverside Parkway in Belcamp, is not far from the Interstate 95/Route 543 interchange, leading police to speculate that the mother might have been traveling.

A check of local hospitals for the mother was unsuccessful.

Dr. Steven Adashek, an obstetrician-gynecologist with physician privileges at Greater Baltimore Medical Center in Towson, said few babies at that point of gestation die without an underlying cause.

The umbilical cord could have become wrapped around the fetus' neck, causing asphyxiation. In that case, the mother might have no symptoms, but would go into labor, he said.

It's also possible the placenta became separated from the uterus. When this happens, labor occurs suddenly and strongly. The condition is very painful and the birth is usually accompanied by significant blood loss, Adashek said.

Police also are searching for members of a girls soccer team that visited the restaurant around 7:45 p.m., to see whether they observed anything. Detectives plan to review videotapes from restaurant surveillance cameras.

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