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Baby Boxes

Italy introduces “baby boxes” to save lives of
abandoned newborns

Special boxes that allow mothers to abandon their newborn babies with no questions
asked have now spread from Germany and Hungary to Italy.
Germany and Hungary introduced such boxes in separate but similar initiatives about five
years ago to help prevent dozens of deaths of newborn babies abandoned on the streets.
The boxes are the high tech, modern equivalent of the old medieval foundling wheels
operated by orphanages in Padua from the 1400s until 1888. The wheels were a circular
wooden board half inside and half outside the orphanages run by nuns. Mothers placed
their unwanted newborns on the board and rang a bell, and the nuns would spin the board
to find the child.
The modern incubators, dubbed the baby post boxes by the European media, are installed
in hospitals and can be opened from the inside or outside, much like bank deposit boxes.

Incubators in Hungarian hospital lobbies allow babies
to be abandoned more safely

Carl Kovac , Budapest

Hungarian hospitals have reported saving the lives of several babies whose mothers
planned to abandon them, by installing an incubator in reception areas, where babies can
be left anonymously.
"Nine babies that's how many this has saved," reported an orderly at the Schopf-Merei
Agost Hospital in Budapest's district IX. She was referring to a portable incubator in the
hallway, just inside the front door. The incubator is there to receive newborn babies
whose mothers have decided to abandon them. Infants placed in it are lucky; many others
are left to die in rubbish bins, behind bushes in isolated areas of public parks, or in
abandoned buildings. Police figures reported that 10 dead newborns were found in
Budapest last year. The figure is undoubtedly higher nationally, authorities said.
The Schopf-Merei Agost Hospital and seven other hospitals in five Hungarian cities offer
desperate mothers an alternative to abandoning their babies in potentially dangerous
locations. Each hospital has made an incubator available around the clock at or near their
entrances. Mothers seen placing their infants in them need not give their names, nor are
they detained.
The Schopf-Merei Agost Hospital initiated the incubator programme three years ago after
a marked increase in the number of mothers killing their newborns or leaving them to die.
The programme also includes discreet antenatal care and counselling for mothers who do
not want to keep their infants-500 mothers have participated in the programme so far.

article from the BMJ

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