Hospital ends giving birth announcements to media

BY BARRY GINTER

THE OLYMPIAN

Parents who deliver their children at Providence St. Peter Hospital will
have to take an extra step to get their birth announcements in a
newspaper.

The hospital has decided to take the advice of the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children and will no longer provide lists of births
at the hospital to the media. Parents will receive a form from the
hospital that they can deliver to a newspaper themselves, said Traci
Blake, a hospital spokeswoman. “It’s a security precaution,” Blake said.

There have been no infant abductions at local hospitals. There have been
three infant abductions in Washington since 1983, none of them because of
a birth announcement, according to Cathy Nahirny, an administrative
manager for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. All
of the children were recovered safely.

Since 1983, there have been four known incidents nationwide in which
abductors have used birth announcements, she said. Overall, there have
been 235 newborn abductions.

“Given the 4 million babies born each year, the likelihood that this is
going to happen is very rare,” she said.

But the advice the group gives to hospitals is intended to add another
layer of security, Nahirny said.
“We’re advising them that they’re potentially putting their patients at
risk,” she said.

Hospitals can put themselves at risk of a lawsuit if an abduction occurs,
Nahirny said.

Susan Kent, a Capital Medical Center spokeswoman, said parents sign a
consent form before their lists are given to the media. Capital will
continue to provide the names, she said.

“We’ve not had anything that makes us reconsider at this point,” she
said. “Our moms love it, and our staff likes it. It’s kind of a win-win.”

Parents who give birth at St. Peter can have their announcements listed
in The Olympian by filling out and delivering the form provided by the
hospital, along with proof of birth, such as a birth certificate.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a
profile of the typical child abductor is a female of childbearing age.
They are often married or cohabiting and trying to fill their companion’s
desire for a child. They often have been pretending to be pregnant,
Nahirny said.

©2006 Knight Ridder

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