|Chinese mothers abandon hundreds of babies with birth defects and diseases
More than 260 unwanted children, most of them babies, have been abandoned in a Chinese “safe haven'' in just over six weeks – more than five a day – since it opened in late January, authorities said.
The “baby hatch'' in Guangzhou, in Guangdong, was suspended on Sunday after the city's welfare home exceeded its capacity to handle new arrivals.
All of those abandoned suffered from illnesses including cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome and congenital heart disease, and 67 percent of them were less than a year old, the Bureau of Civil Affairs of Guangzhou Municipality said.
The facility was set up in late January and 262 children had been abandoned at it by Sunday morning, it said in a statement.
The 1,000-bed welfare home was housing 1,121 residents, with another 1,274 being cared for by foster families, the statement issued Sunday said.
Its quarantine facilities were “not enough to meet the demand'' and wards that had previously held 50 children were now caring for 80 to 100, it added.
China has set up 25 baby safe havens in 10 provinces and major cities since June 2011 and plans to roll out the facilities to most of the country, Xinhua reported in February.
The havens – introduced to reduce the risks of children dying after being abandoned in the street – usually have an incubator, a delayed alarm device, an air conditioner and a baby bed, that report said.
Welfare staff retrieve a baby five to 10 minutes after a person leaves the child and presses the alarm button, allowing families to give up the infant safely and anonymously.
Anyone leaving a child at the Guangzhou safe haven will now be reported to police, the city statement said. Any re-opening will be announced at a later date, it added.
“Losing the care and love of the family at a young age will cause lifetime psychological damage to a child,'' it cited the head of the welfare home, Xu Jiu, as saying. “And abandoning children is illegal. I hope parents who want to do so think prudently before acting.''