Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 291–297 | Cite as

Anonymous birth law saves babies—optimization, sustainability and public awareness

  • Chryssa GrylliEmail author
  • Ian Brockington
  • Christian Fiala
  • Mercedes Huscsava
  • Thomas Waldhoer
  • Claudia M. Klier
Original Article


The aims of this study are to assess the impact of Austria’s anonymous birth law from the time relevant statistical records are available and to evaluate the use of hatches versus anonymous hospital delivery. This study is a complete census of police-reported neonaticides (1975–2012) as well as anonymous births including baby hatches in Austria during 2002–2012. The time trends of neonaticide rates, anonymous births and baby hatches were analysed by means of Poisson and logistic regression model. Predicted and observed rates were derived and compared using a Bayesian Poisson regression model. Predicted numbers of neonaticides for the period of the active awareness campaign, 2002–2004, were more than three times larger than the observed number (p = 0.0067). Of the 365 women who benefitted from this legislation, only 11.5 % chose to put their babies in a baby hatch. Since the law was introduced, a significant decreasing tendency of numbers of anonymous births (p = 047) was observed, while there was significant increase of neonaticide rates (p = 0.0001). The implementation of the anonymous delivery law is associated with a decrease in the number of police-reported neonaticides. The subsequent significantly decreasing numbers of anonymous births with an accompanying increase of neonaticides represents additional evidence for the effectiveness of the measure.


Anonymous birth Baby hatches Neonaticide Child abandonment legislation 



We thank the members of the European Collaboration for the understanding of filicide Putkonen Hanna, Weizmann-Henelius Ghitta and Sabine Amon for critical comments of the final draft of the manuscript.

Chryssa Grylli developed the study design, assisted with the analysis and interpretation and wrote the paper; she has final responsibility to submit for publication, and is the guarantor.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval was granted by Ethics Commission of the Medical University of Vienna (EK No 412/2006).


Data collection were financially supported by the Austrian National Bank (Anniversary Fund, project number AP 12200 OENB)

The funders had no influence on the study design, analysis, interpretation, writing up of the manuscript, or the decision to submit for publication.

Conflict of interest

All authors have no support from any organisation for the submitted work, no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years and no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent MedicineMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.University of BirminghamBromyardUK
  3. 3.GynMed, ClinicViennaAustria
  4. 4.Department of Epidemiology, Center for Public HealthMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  5. 5.Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent MedicineMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria

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