To study whether early mother-infant contact with suckling and rooming-in reduces the rate of infant abandonment.
The infant abandonment rate was studied at a Russian hospital before and after the introduction of early mother-infant contact with suckling and rooming-in.
Maternity Hospital 11, a public hospital in St Petersburg, Russia, was chosen as the site of this study because it recently changed its maternity care practices, implementing portions of the United Nations Children's Fund Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
In mid 1992, Maternity Hospital 11 changed its practices in accord with the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, encouraging early contact, suckling, and rooming-in of the mother and infant from birth to the time of discharge from the hospital.
The location of a mother's maternity hospital is related to her residential district. Maternity Hospital 11 serves an urban working-class community, with most mothers receiving prenatal care. All deliveries at this hospital from 1987 to 1998 were studied.
Main Outcome Measure
The rate of infant abandonment at Maternity Hospital 11 was studied from 1987 to 1998, 6 years before and 6 years after the implemented changes in mother-infant contact. The mean (±SD) infant abandonment rate decreased from 50.3 ± 5.8 per 10,000 births in the first 6 years to 27.8 ± 8.7 per 10,000 births in the next 6 years following implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
Encouraging early mother-infant contact with suckling and rooming-in may provide a simple, low-cost method for reducing infant abandonment.