Increasing Infant Abductions Forces Hospitals to Stop Releasing Birth Notices
The Wisconsin State Journal will stop publishing birth announcements later this week because Madison’s two birthing hospitals will no longer provide the information to the newspaper.
The end of the traditional keepsake for parents and notice to the community stems from a growing concern about infant abductions, hospital officials say.
Birth listings “set people up as targets for somebody who might want to steal a baby,” said Kathy Kostrivas, Meriter Hospital’s assistant vice president for women’s health services.
"It’s an effort to improve safety and security for families,” said Kim Sveum, spokeswoman for St. Mary’s Hospital.
State Journal city editor Phil Brinkman said the paper can’t print the notices unless it gets the information from a hospital or other trusted source, said the Wisconsin State Journal. “I understand the hospitals’ concern for the safety of their patients and their families,” he said. “But we have only published birth announcements from parents who have consented to share their news with their friends, neighbors and co-workers.”
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, at least two groups have long recommended that hospitals not share the information, including a 1999 alert to hospitals by the Joint Commission and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
At least 290 babies have been abducted in the U.S. since 1983, including 132 at health care facilities, according to the center. Four cases, from 1989 to 1993, were linked by law enforcement to birth announcements, the Wisconsin State Journal says.