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Infant Abductions

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The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® is a resource for law enforcement and the health care industry about the topic of infant abductions.

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

Profile of “typical” infant abductor

This list of characteristics was developed from an analysis of 308 cases occurring from 1983 through January 2017.

  • Usually a female of childbearing age who appears pregnant.
  • Most likely compulsive; most often relies on manipulation, lying and deception.
  • Frequently indicates she has lost a baby or is incapable of having one.
  • Often married or cohabitating; companion’s desire for a baby or the abductor’s desire to provide her companion with “his” baby may be the motivation for the abduction.
  • Usually lives in the community where the abduction takes place.
  • Frequently initially visits nursery and maternity units at more than one health care 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 present to abduct a baby.
  • Frequently impersonates a nurse or other allied health care personnel.
  • Often becomes familiar with health care staff members, staff member work routines and victim parents.
  • Often demonstrates a capability to provide care to the baby once the abduction occurs, within her emotional and physical abilities.

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 find by visiting health care facilities and tries to meet the target family.
  • Often plans the abduction and brings a weapon, although the weapon may not be used.
  • Often impersonates a health care 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 health care 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 PDF 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 health care facilities, homes and other places. A nonfamily member is defined as someone who is not a parent or legal guardian. In 2013 there were nearly 4 million births in the U.S. at nearly 2,800 birthing facilities.

Download the full Newborn/Infant Abductions.

Last updated June 2017

For health care professionals

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children announces the release of the 10th edition of For health care professionals: Guidelines on prevention of and response to infant abductions. This publication provides health care providers, security personnel and administrators, law enforcement officials and families with key information regarding infant abductions, including recommendations to prevent infant abductions from a health care facility or home and responsive actions if an abduction occurs.


For health care professionals Profile Self-assessment fillable PDF Nursing checklist fillable PDF Drill critique fillable PDF

Safety tips for expectant parents

The Safety tips for expectant parents publication provides families and child care providers with recommendations to help prevent infant abductions from a health care facility or home.

Download Safety tips for expectant parents

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