Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Friday, July 31, 1998 Published at 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK


Abandoned babies on the rise

Many babies are left wrapped only in a blanket

The number of cases of babies being abandoned by their mothers has tripled in the last decade.

In 1996, 65 babies were abandoned, according to Home Office statistics.

That figure compares with 22 a decade earlier.

BBC correspondent Tim Hammond: The babies are left to survive alone
While 52 of those mothers were traced by police, the rest never came forward.

In many cases the babies are left to survive on their own, often wrapped only in a blanket, outside hospitals, phone boxes, or churches.

Earlier this month "Baby Callum" was buried after he was discovered having been dumped in a bin-bag in Warrington in March.

He was only a few hours old when abandoned and died of asphyxiation.

Cheshire Police believe the mother was young and gave birth without medical assistance.

But she has remained silent despite police and press appeals.

It is a typical, although rare, case.


[ image: More than 50 mothers were traced]
More than 50 mothers were traced
Many police forces are now training officers how to deal with abandoned babies and their mothers.

Often the women can be suffering post natal depression or feelings of inadequacy.

In some cases, mothers may see abandoning their child as an alternative to abortion or leave their baby believing the infant will have a chance of a better life.

Doctors have no firm conclusions as to why the number is increasing although they believe teenage pregnancies together with inadequate sex education could be factors.

Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe.

Sex education

The Family Planning Association, which is organising a week of events in August to raise awareness of the need for better sex education, says there is no evidence to suggest teenagers are more likely to abandon their babies than other women.

A spokeswoman said: "People feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. If they are unsupported in the pregnancy, they feel they are unlikely to be supported once the baby is born."

She said economic as well as emotional and social factors could be behind the rise in abandonned babies.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |

UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Internet Links

Home Office

Department of Health

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online