Tue, Mar 18, 2014 - Page 6 News List

‘Baby hatches’ scheme shelved in city of Guangzhou

Reuters, HONG KONG

Chinese authorities have suspended operations at a “baby hatch,” where anonymous mothers can safely abandoned babies, in the city of Guangzhou as a surge in the number of infants has overwhelmed the center which only opened in late January.

Many Chinese cities have set up baby hatches, which consist of an incubator and a delayed alarm, to protect unwanted newborns in a country where strict family planning laws have been blamed for the high number of baby girls being abandoned.

The baby hatch in Guangzhou, which opened on Jan. 28, has so far received 262 abandoned babies, 148 boys and 114 girls, according to the city’s Bureau of Civil Affairs.

All the babies suffered from diseases, including 110 cases of cerebral palsy, 39 cases of Down’s syndrome and 32 cases of congenital heart disease, the bureau said.

“Due to an increasing number of abandoned babies at the baby hatch, the orphanage’s ability to receive those babies has reached the limit,” Guangzhou Social Welfare Institute director Xu Jiu said at a briefing.

Baby hatches have sparked concern among some that they may encourage more parents to abandon babies.

However, Chinese Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo (李立國) told reporters during the annual National People’s Congress meetings this month that they “do more good than harm.”

Twenty-five cities in China have set up baby hatches as a pilot program, according to Xinhua news agency.

Guangzhou is the first to suspend the program.

The city, which is part of an industrial hub where millions of migrant workers live, received more babies than other cities.

Over the first 50 days, 16 unwanted babies were found at the baby hatch in Tianjin, while 25 were found at the one in Nanjing, local papers reported.

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