Baby abductions from hospitals are extremely rare, thankfully. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, from 1965 through May 2017 there were only 135 infant abductions from health care facilities across all of the United States.
Still, having a safe and secure maternity ward provides peace of mind for new parents when they have a baby. Hospitals take security guidelines very seriously and there are numerous anti-abduction protocols in place. In addition, here are techniques new parents can follow to help prevent baby abductions while in the hospital and immediately after going home.
- Be watchful of your newborn infant.
- Always transport your baby in the bassinet.
- Do not allow visitors or hospital staff to carry your baby out of your room in their arms.
- Never leave your infant out of your direct line of sight, even when you go take a shower or to the bathroom.
- Ask questions about routine nursery procedures, feeding times, visitation policies and other security measures the hospital has in place.
- Do not give your baby to anyone without properly verified hospital identification.
- Be sure you know the nurse assigned to your baby.
- Question anyone unfamiliar who enters your room even if he or she is in hospital attire. Call the nurse’s station immediately and do not release your baby to anyone if you are unsure.
- If hospital staff members come to take your baby, ask questions about where they are taking the baby and why. Ask who ordered the tests and when your baby will be returned to you. If you are uncomfortable, call your nurse for clarification.
- Before discharge, have at least one color photograph of your infant (full, front face view) and a complete written description of your infant, including hair and eye color, length, weight, date of birth and specific physical attributes like birth marks or moles.
- It is recommended that you do not have a birth announcement printed in the newspaper. If you decide to do so, include only your last name and don’t include your home address.
- Avoid the use of outdoor decorations such as balloons or wreaths to announce your baby’s arrival.
- Only allow people you know well into your house when bringing your baby home. Don’t allow anyone into the home who is a short-term friend, especially if met only briefly during pregnancy or while you were in the hospital.
(Adapted from Guidelines for Prevention and Response to Infant Abductions from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children).