morphine from sugar
Representational imageistock

Police in the Italian city of Verona have arrested a nurse accused of illegally administering an overdose of unprescribed morphine to a new born baby in an attempt to calm it down.

Italian media reported that the newborn had allegedly overdosed on the dosage of the opiate and had a respiratory arrest. La Repubblica said that the 43-year-old nurse is accused of administering the drugs without a prescription.

Authorities told local reporters that woman did not react when they arrived at her home to arrest her, describing her demeanour as "very cold".

Police said that later tests at a Verona hospital confirmed that opioids were present in the child's blood.

Translated by thelocal.it, the newspaper report said that the nurse is also alleged to have told colleagues to use the drug "to calm babies down" and that she did not think there was any risk to the practice.

The incident is said to have occurred between 19 and 20 March 2017 at a time when police say only one newborn in the neonatal intensive care unit had a prescription of morphine - allegedly administered by the same nurse. Police are now looking into whether any other similar cases may have occurred in the past.