To reduce abduction risk, Methodist Hospital nixes birth announcements

By Jeff Hansel

It’s a girl! Or a boy!

But now you’ll never know — unless Mom or Dad wants you to.

Mayo Clinic’s Rochester Methodist Hospital has stopped publishing birth announcements. The move came Monday.


"Using recommendations from the Joint Commission, (the) National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Mayo Clinic decided as a matter of safety to no longer place birth announcements in the newspaper," Mayo spokesman Bryan Anderson told the Post-Bulletin.

The Joint Commission requires hospitals to "identify and address security risks," said Ken Powers, commission spokesman.

"Infant and pediatric abduction is an issue that’s addressed by that standard," Powers said. "So hypothetically that could be kind of (Mayo’s) response to addressing that standard or viewing that as kind of minimizing that risk."

Abductions against new mothers recently discharged to home from the hospital made up 39 percent of abductions of newborns and infants up to 6 months old, said the Center for Missing & Exploited Children. A third included violence against the baby’s mother.

Hospitals can protect information about new babies, said John Rabun, chief executive officer for the Missing & Exploited Center. If parents want to publish a birth announcement, he said, it’s safer to wait a month or more and then publish only limited information, because it’s better to limit the amount of public information that potential abductors can use.

Mayo’s change apparently wasn’t systemwide, but the issue is under consideration elsewhere. Austin Medical Center-Mayo Health System and Olmsted Medical Center still offered birth announcements Monday.

Austin Medical Center spokeswoman Tami Oldfather said the hospital’s policy is "currently under review for the expanded safety of our patients, even though Austin Medical Center currently has many safety measures in place for newborns, and all parents sign a release of information prior to the birth announcement being made public."

Nationwide, the number of newborn abductions by nonfamily members averaged up to a dozen a year from 1983 to 2004, including one newborn in Minnesota, according to the Center for Missing & Exploited Children. "Now, generally we’re down to about two (a year)," Rabun said.

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