Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Babies removed from their parents at birth: 160 statutory care actions.

Br Med J 1980; 280 doi: (Published 05 April 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;280:987
  1. A C Fairburn,
  2. A W Tredinnick


    A total of 160 babies taken statutorily into care at or soon after birth in Britain have so far been traced, mostly since 1973. Both this and the figure of 47 such actions between April 1978 and March 1979 are almost certainly underestimates. In 144 instances child abuse or neglect or both had occurred in most (76%), but statutory action was also reported in 16 first-born babies. Schizophrenia and severe mental handicap in the parents accounted for 13%, major psychiatric factors being reported in half the cases. The practice is more widespread than was generally imagined, with doctors and nurses always concerned. More detailed surveillance of statutory care actions at birth and in the first three months of life is recommended.