Some people using ‘baby hatch’ in lieu of baby sitters: Kumamoto panel


A Kumamoto hospital “baby hatch” where people can leave unwanted newborns has sometimes been used inappropriately, with one person leaving a child there in order to study abroad, a municipal panel of experts said Thursday.

Another parent left a child in the baby hatch at Jikei Hospital after finding it impossible to find a baby sitter during work hours, according to the panel.

“Some parents apparently used the facility for their own convenience,” the panel said in a report submitted to Kumamoto Mayor Seishi Koyama.

The report was compiled on the basis of interviews with parents who handed over unwanted babies at the facility between October 2009 and last September. A total of 30 children were left during this period.

The hospital set up Japan’s first baby hatch in May 2007 to enable parents who can’t care for their babies due to poverty or other woes to drop them off anonymously.

Since then, 81 babies have been left there, of whom 67, or around 80 percent, were identified. The panel said the hospital and authorities should make efforts to identify the remaining children.

It also reported that one mother flew to Kumamoto to leave her child there immediately after giving birth at home, while another woman had a baby on her way to the baby hatch.

“It cannot be said that the lives and safety of children are secured” before they are brought to the hospital, the panel noted.