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20 / 03 / 2008 - 600 babies on safety watch before birth
ENGLAND - More than 600 babies have been put on the child protection register in Birmingham in the last three years - before they were even born.
The drastic action was taken because social workers believed the tots were at serious risk from sexual abuse, physical injury, neglect or emotional damage.
Some of the unborn babies are included on the confidential register within the first three months of the mum-to-be's pregnancy. And social workers believe the risk to some children is so great that they take them into care immediately after they are delivered.
John Hemming, Lib Dem MP for Birmingham Yardley, said: "I'm worried about new children being removed from their mothers because they are victims of domestic violence.
"This often appears on the child protection register under the issue of emotional abuse.
"My view is that we should aim to do more to protect women from being victims rather than take their children from them, especially at birth."
Birmingham social workers revealed they placed 182 unborn children on the child protection register in 2005; 219 in 2006; and 208 in 2007, following a Freedom of Information Act inquiry from the Sunday Mercury.
Most appear on the register when the mum is more than six months pregnant. But in 10 cases social workers placed unborn children on the register when their mums were less than three months pregnant.
Fran Lyon fled Birmingham for Sweden when she was pregnant because she feared social workers would take her unborn baby.
She gave birth to a healthy girl in January and her case has now been taken up by Mr Hemming A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: "We consider the welfare of the unborn child using the same criteria as for born children, under Government guidelines.
"The aim of undertaking child protection processes is to protect any born or unborn child from the risk of significant harm.
"We work extensively with the family and other agencies to ensure that we safeguard their welfare.
"The fact that a born or unborn child's name is placed on the child protection register means that the child is remaining in the care of his or her, parent or carer."
Source : Fionnuala Bourke, Sunday Mercury