National / Crime & Legal

Dead newborn left in Kumamoto 'baby hatch'; mom arrested


A 31-year-old woman was arrested Saturday on suspicion of leaving the dead body of her newborn son in a “baby hatch” at a hospital in the city of Kumamoto.

Maiko Yamashita of adjacent Yamaga admitted putting the newborn in the hatch, which is intended to be an anonymous depository for infants whose parents are unable to raise them. She said he died after birth some days ago, the police said.

The 3.2-kg infant, about 53 cm long, was found at around 8:30 p.m. Friday by a Jikei Hospital staffer, who called the police. Leaving a baby in the incubator triggers a hospital buzzer.

An autopsy showed the infant died around Thursday of a head injury sustained during childbirth, according to the police. Witness accounts of Yamashita’s car at the hospital led police to question her.

Yamashita lives with her parents and son, who is an elementary school student. Her parents did not notice her pregnancy or delivery.

The hatch was installed in May 2007 and had collected 101 newborns as of March. Of the babies deposited, 11 had some form of disability, according to a report released in September by a municipal panel.

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