Abduction of infants from hospitalBMJ 1995; 310 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6982.754 (Published 25 March 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:754
- Terence Stephenson
- Senior lecturer in child health Department of Child Health, University Hospital, Nottingham NG7 2UH
Vigilance and staff training are the keys to prevention
Abduction of infants from birth to the age of 6 months from hospitals by people who are not members of their family, such as the recent abductions in Nottingham and Wales, are rare. In Britain since 1990 roughly half a dozen infants have been reported to have been abducted from their natural parents by people who were not members of their family out of a total of 800000 births a year. The experience of any one hospital or police force in Britain is therefore very limited.1 Rabun, who is an authority on the abduction of infants from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the United States, has analysed 77 abductions of infants from American hospitals between 1983 and 1992,2 3 and the lessons of his analyses have to be relearnt each time an abduction occurs in Britain.
In Rabun's study all the abducted infants were 3 months old or younger (half were less than 1 week old) and 73 were returned safely within two weeks. In the typical case a woman impersonated a nurse. Almost all the abductors were female, and they were often overweight (making …