Seven infants were left in a baby hatch in the city of Kumamoto in fiscal 2018, the municipal government said Monday.

A total of 144 infants have been brought to the hatch, called Konotori no Yurikago (Storks’ Cradle), since it was set up at Jikei Hospital in 2007. The hatch allows parents having difficulty in rearing their babies to leave them anonymously.

Four of the seven infants left in fiscal 2018 were boys. All seven were less than 1 year old. Five were less than 1 month old.

Four were born at home without the help of medical personnel. The parents’ whereabouts were found for six of them.

Regarding their reasons for using the baby hatch, with multiple answers allowed, poverty was cited by three of the parents and child-rearing anxieties by two.

One of the reasons cited was an unwillingness to consult the local government, which women typically do to receive support when they get pregnant. A Kumamoto official said some people have difficulties finding government offices close to where they live or work.

The city will continue asking the central government to strengthen consultation services and take other steps to help such parents, Kumamoto Mayor Kazufumi Onishi said in a statement.

In July 2017, the city asked the central government to prepare a consulting service for parents and consider legislation that would allow pregnant women to give birth at hospitals anonymously.

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