Keep Houston Press Free

Authorities Say Nurse Dropped Near-Deadly Amounts of Salt in Daughter's Feeding Tube

It took removing a pre-schooler from her mother's care for seven months for authorities to build their case against a mom they say tried to poison her little girl with salt.

Katie Alice Ripstra, 31, was charged this week by the Harris County Sheriff's Office for allegedly poisoning her 4-year-old through a feeding tube the child used. The abuse, according to court records, put the child into the intensive care unit at Texas Children's Hospital last year and caused brain damage.

According to a sheriff's office investigator, the child had been abused since 2011. An affidavit of probable cause says the child had been admitted several times to TCH with extremely high sodium levels. In August, she was admitted with a level as high as 186 milliequivalents per liter. The normal range for blood sodium levels is 135 to 145 milliequivalents per liter according to National Library of Medicine.

The little girl made a total of four trips to the children's last year, recovering each time from sodium levels higher than 150 milliequivalents per liter.

What's puzzling is that Ripstra was a pediatric nurse at the hospital, but investigators haven't revealed why she would have been doing this to her own kid, who according to court documents used a gastric feeding tube.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Court records say that after a meeting in the summer that involved the hospital's child abuse team, Ripstra was confronted about the levels of sodium. The doctor handling the case, according to the affidavit, said Ripstra was introducing the high levels of sodium through her daughter's feeding tube on purpose.

The child was in intensive care for three days and suffered brain damage due to her sodium levels when she was admitted again on August 6. Child protective services began investigating following that visit and the child was placed in someone else's custody the following month.

Ripstra was arrested and charged with injury to a child, serious bodily injury and is out on $30,000 bond awaiting trial and does not have custody of her daughter, according to the sheriff's office.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.