Social media divided in support for mom who left baby in shopping cart

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ARIZONA -- Could a single moment suddenly make someone a terrible parent?

If you leave it up to the judge and jury otherwise known as social media, apparently yes.

Markham Nolan is a managing editor for Vocative, a site spotting trending stories on the internet. The one about an Arizona mother, who says she mistakenly left her two-month-old baby in a shopping cart at a grocery store parking lot hit mainstream media pretty quickly.

"The problem with social media is that once narrative gets traction that becomes the leading line -- grow and grow and grow and there’s no pulling it back," Nolan said

Social media exploded with comments, opinions and hateful messages for Cherish Peterson. Some accused the 27-year-old mother of four of being under the influence and others saying she should lose custody of all her children.

Peterson claimed she drove home with her three other children before realizing what she did and says she did race back to get her baby, within about 40 minutes.

Tearfully, the young mother had no other choice but to break her silence recently and share her account of what happened and explained her exhaustion and horrible mistake.

Nolan says there’s no question stories about children tend to trend and get some of the most comments on social media. In Peterson’s case, it’s even created an interesting reaction of support for the mom since she’s given her interview.

The hashtag #istandwithcherish now trending, many using it as a confessional of sorts for their parenting mistakes.

We work with the memory experts to help explain how something like this can happen.

If parents experience impaired sleep the night before, and/or they experienced a powerful stressor during a time period, it can suppress activation of a “cognitive” memory. The brain “habit” memory system has the capacity to completely suppress the “cognitive” memory system, thereby providing the neurobiological explanation of how this can occur.

These competing systems is the same reason many children are left alone in vehicles. In this case, it’s sort of the opposite situation, but the same competitive memory systems let down this mother.

These incidents are typically referred to as “Forgotten Baby Syndrome” (FBS), and according to memory expert David Diamond, PhD., an expert in cognitive and neural sciences at the University of South Florida, it’s a form of memory lapse involving the portions of the brain that store new information and help plan for the future.

“It is the hippocampus that processes that a child is in the car, while the prefrontal cortex enables a parent to plan the route, including a change in plans to go to daycare rather than straight to work,” Diamond wrote in an op-ed for HLN.