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Abandoned babies and absent policies

Mueller, J; Sherr, L; (2009) Abandoned babies and absent policies. HEALTH POLICY , 93 (2-3) 157 - 164. 10.1016/j.healthpol.2009.06.002.

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Abstract

Object: Although infant abandonment is a historical problem, we know remarkably little about the conditions or effects of abandonment to guide evidence driven policies. This paper briefly reviews the existing international evidence base with reference to potential mental health considerations before mapping current UK guidelines and procedures, and available incidence data. Limitations arising from these findings are discussed with reference to international practice, and interpreted in terms of future pathways for UK policy.Method: A systematic approach was utilized to gather available data on policy information and statistics on abandoned babies in the UK.Results: A review of the limited literature indicates that baby abandonment continues to occur, with potentially wide-ranging mental health ramifications for those involved. However, research into such consequences is lacking, and evidence with which to understand risk factors or motives for abandonment is scarce. International approaches to the issue remain controversial with outcomes unclear. Our systematic search identified that no specific UK policy relating to baby abandonment exists, either nationally or institutionally. This is compounded by a lack of accurate of UK abandonment statistics. Data that does exist is not comprehensive and sources are incompatible, resulting in an ambiguous picture of UK baby abandonment.Conclusions: Available literature indicates an absence of clear provision, policy and research on baby abandonment. Based on current understanding of maternal and child mental health issues likely to be involved in abandonment, existing UK strategy could be easily adapted to avoid the 'learning from scratch' approach. National policies on recording and handling of baby abandonments are urgently needed, and future efforts should be concentrated on establishing clear data collection frameworks to inform understanding, guide competent practice and enable successfully targeted interventions. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: Abandoned babies and absent policies
DOI: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2009.06.002
Keywords: Abandoned baby, Policy, Infanticide, Psychology, Infant outcome, Mental health, INFANT ABANDONMENT, ADOPTION RESEARCH, ST-PETERSBURG, PREGNANCY, CHILDREN, NEONATICIDE, NEWBORNS, GROWTH, STATE, TEXAS
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Pop Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/123842
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