Hong Kong Med J 2006;12:61-4 | Number 1, February 2006
Neonaticide, newborn abandonment, and denial of pregnancy--newborn victimisation associated with unwanted motherhood
ACW Lee, CH Li, NS Kwong, KT So
Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Tuen Mun Hospital, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong
We report two cases of newborn death and two cases of near-miss newborn death. One neonate was strangled to death after delivery in the hospital and one died from lethal congenital malformations. The third was found on the verge of death after being abandoned in a dumpster. The fourth was rescued from the toilet bowl by the mother’s boyfriend while the mother was in a state of panic. In the three cases where the infants’ maternal identities were known, the women were all primiparous and aged 22, 13, and 17 years. The paternity was extramarital, incestuous, and concealed, respectively. Denial or concealment of pregnancy was present in all cases, but none of the women had any overt psychiatric manifestations at the time of delivery. Neonaticide and newborn abandonment are closely associated with denial of pregnancy, and are serious forms of childhood victimisation. Their occurrence in Hong Kong is poorly understood and no representative figures are available. A concerted effort among the health care, social work, and judicial professionals is needed to define the scope of the problem and devise preventive measures.
Key words: Denial (pregnancy); Infant, newborn; Infanticide; Pregnancy, unwanted
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