In 1999, Texas was the first of 47 states to pass a Safe Haven law allowing for the anonymous surrender of unwanted newborns at designated locations. However, state agencies do not systematically collect data on the number of illegally abandoned infants and infants legally surrendered under the law. Using the LexisNexis database of Texas newspapers, this study estimated the number of illegally abandoned and legally surrendered newborns younger than age 60 days in Texas, 1996 to 2006 and describes their demographic characteristics. Of 93 infants (53% male) identified during the study period, 82 were illegally abandoned (70% found alive) and 11 were legally surrendered. On average, 7.5 (range: 4-16) infants were illegally abandoned each year, with the greatest number found in 1999. Infants continued to be illegally abandoned following passage of the Safe Haven law. A statewide surveillance system should be implemented to evaluate this important public health problem.
- Child welfare services/child protection
- Descriptive research
- Legal aspects
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology