A Columbus couple has been charged with cruelty to children after their 8-month-old triplet girls were found to be “severely underweight,” according to police reports.
Jennifer Ferguson, 33, and David Alexander Adams, 23, pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree cruelty to children during Thursday’s preliminary hearing. They were both given bonds of $7,500, and the case was bound over to Superior Court.
The couple was arrested Wednesday night at Midtown Medical Center after a physician with the hospital told police that the children were severely underweight and it was a direct result of the parents’ neglect. The doctor said it appeared as if the children weren’t receiving the right amount of medical attention or nutrition.
In court Thursday, officials said they were called Wednesday to a pediatrician’s office after the doctor threatened to call Muscogee County Division of Family and Children Services Office because he had concerns about the children’s health.
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Detective Jesse Knight said Ferguson, a mother of seven, told police she feeds her kids, but they lose and gain weight. The mother said the only medical issue they have faced is their premature birth, Knight said.
The police followed the babies to Midtown Medical Center for an evaluation.
The children were born around 32 weeks gestation and weighed about 3.7 pounds at birth. The children weighed 7.9, 6.5 and 6.9 pounds Wednesday night, Officer Christina Lombardo said.
According to pregnancy website thebump.com, the average weight of a triplet at birth is around four pounds. While no specific data was found to support what a triplet should weigh around 8 months, a full-term female baby should weigh between 17 and 21.5 pounds at 8 months, according to the website healthychildren.org.
According to Knight, Ferguson said the last time she made it to the pediatrician’s office was in December. She admitted that she missed her February appointment with the pediatrician because she didn’t have the means to get there, Knight testified.
“She stated that she didn’t have transportation, and that was the reason why,” Knight said.
The children were admitted to the hospital, where they are listed in stable condition, police said.
Knight said the children are being fed every two hours at the hospital. He said they can’t be fed too much over a short period of time because of their small size, but the children are very receptive to the formula.
Police said the couple lives in a Garden Drive household with a total of seven children. David Adams’ father said his son fathered the triplets and a 2-year-old child who resides in residence, but only Ferguson is the biological parent of all seven children.
DFCS has spoken with all parties involved.
As a temporary solution to the living situation, Adams’ 2-year-old was placed in his father’s home and the other kids were placed in their maternal grandfather’s home.
Neither of the clients testified during the hearing.