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Infant Abductions

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® has been a resource for law enforcement and the healthcare industry about the topic of infant abductions since 1989.

As the nation’s clearinghouse on missing and exploited children, NCMEC maintains statistics regarding the number and location of infant abductions and provides technical assistance and training to healthcare and security personnel in an effort to prevent infant abductions from occurring in their facilities. NCMEC also provides guidance about how to respond when an infant abduction does occur and we provide assistance to law enforcement during and after an incident.

Profile of “Typical” Infant Abductor

This list of characteristics was developed from an analysis of 288 cases occurring between 1983 and 2012.

The abductor:

  • Is usually a female of “childbearing” age, 12 to 53 years old, and often overweight.
  • Is most likely compulsive; most often relies on manipulation, lying and deception.
  • Frequently indicates she has lost a baby or is incapable of having one.
  • Is often married or cohabitating; companion’s desire for a child or the abductor’s desire to provide her companion with “his” child may be the motivation for the abduction.
  • Usually lives in the community where the abduction takes place.
  • Frequently visits nursery and maternity units at more than one healthcare facility prior to the abduction; asks detailed questions about procedures and the maternity floor layout; frequently uses a fire exit stairwell for her escape; and may also try to abduct from the home setting.
  • Usually plans the abduction, but does not necessarily target a specific infant; frequently seizes any opportunity to abduct an infant.
  • Frequently impersonates a nurse or other allied healthcare personnel.
  • Often becomes familiar with healthcare staff members, staff members’ work routines and victim parents.
  • Demonstrates capability to provide “good” care to the baby once the abduction occurs.

In addition an abductor who abducts from the home setting:

  • Is more likely to be single while claiming to have a partner.
  • Often targets a mother whom she may have found by visiting healthcare facilities and tries to meet the target family.
  • Often both plans the abduction and brings a weapon, although the weapon may not be used.
  • Often impersonates a healthcare or social services professional when visiting the home.

There is no guarantee an infant abductor will fit this description.

Prevention is the best defense against infant abductions. Know whom to look for and that person’s method of operation. If you are interested in learning more about this important topic, download a complimentary copy of For Healthcare Professionals: Guidelines on Prevention of and Response to Infant Abductions. If you need additional information or would like to schedule a training session contact NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678).

Infant Abduction Statistics

The list below includes all cases in the U.S. documented by NCMEC, the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety and the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime concerning abductions by nonfamily members of newborns/infants (birth to 6 months) from healthcare facilities, homes and other places. A nonfamily member is defined as someone who is not a parent or legal guardian. There are approximately 4.3 million births in the U.S. each year at more than 3,500 birthing facilities.

Download the full Newborn/Infant Abductions.

Total abductions of infants from 1983-2014 (Total in 2014)

291(1)

Total abducted from 1983-2014 still missing (Total in 2014)

12(0)

Circumstances
of Abduction
1983-
2014
Located
1983-2014
Located
in 2014
Still
Missing
1983-2014
Still
Missing
in 2014
From healthcare
facilities
132 127 1 5 --
From mother’s room 77 -- -- -- --
From Nursery 17 -- -- -- --
From pediatrics 17 -- -- -- --
From “on premises” 21 -- -- -- --
With violence to
mother/caregiver
11 -- -- -- --
From home 118 114 1 4 4
With violence to mother 35 -- -- -- --
From “other places” 41 38 -- 3 --
With violence to mother 11 -- -- -- --

Last updated January 2014


For Healthcare Professionals

The ‘For Healthcare Professionals’ publication provides healthcare providers, security personnel and administrators, law enforcement officials and families with key information regarding infant abductions, including recommendations to prevent infant abductions from a healthcare facility or home and responsive actions if an abduction occurs.

Download For Healthcare Professionals


Safety Tips for Expectant Parents

The ‘Safety Tips for Expectant Parents’ publication provides parents and child care providers with recommendations to help prevent infant abductions from a healthcare facility or home.

Download Safety Tips for Expectant Parents

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