Experts believe that the rise in teenage pregnancy, family break-up, the pressure of trying to be the perfect parent and poverty are responsible for nearly 60 children under the age of two being abandoned in England and Wales each year.
In 85 per cent of the cases, the mother and child are reunited. In the remainder of cases the children are usually fostered or adopted, but several babies who are abandoned are found dead.
Psychologists believe that even short-term abandonment can damage a child's emotional and social development. "Even short separations could have a negative effect on the child's ability to form close relationships," said Dr Michael Boulton, a child psychologist at the University of Keele. "Babies often form attachments with their mother before birth. They know their mother's smell and turn to them when anxious or distressed. If they suddenly find they have gone it can be very damaging."
Dr Boulton said that mothers who abandon their children normally do so under desperate circumstances. "Having one's first child is the most stressful experience someone can go through. Young mothers can be vulnerable, especially if they are alone and do not have the experience or social support to cope."Reuse content