July 1993

Infant Abandonment: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Cost Analysis

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics District of Columbia General Hospital Washington, DC

Am J Dis Child. 1993;147(7):714-716. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1993.02160310016005

Sir.—Abandonment of children is a major social and financial problem facing city hospitals.1 It has become more prevalent since the epidemic use of illicit drugs such as crack cocaine.1,2 Newborn nurseries at the District of Columbia General Hospital (DCGH),

Washington, are overcrowded with abandoned infants, making it difficult to provide adequate health care in an acute-care setting. We designed a retrospective study to identify risk factors for abandonment and to assess the financial and social impact of this phenomenon on health care.

Patient Report.  —From January 1990 through June 1991, 3252infants (1674 boys and 1578 girls) were born at DCGH during the 18-month study period. Of these infants, 2759 were of normal birth weight (>2500 g) and 493 were of low birth weight (≤2500 g). Infants included 2737 (84.2%) African Americans, 473 (14.5%) Hispanics, 22 (0.7%) whites, and 20 (0.6%) who were of other ethnic origins. Of

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