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Mother had 16 babies taken into care, report reveals

Between 2007 and 2014, 13,248 babies were taken into care at birth. Credit: PA

One mother had 16 babies taken into care, a report has revealed.

Figures show the number of newborn babies taken into care in England has soared in recent years.

Between 2007 and 2014, 13,248 babies were taken into care at birth or not long afterwards.

Researchers at Lancaster University, Brunel University, London, and the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust compiled the figures using family court records.

13,248
Babies were taken into care between 2007 and 2014
2,018
newborns were made the subject of care proceedings in 2013

Although more children generally are entering care, there is a disproportionate increase of infants subject to legal proceedings at birth.

– Professor Karen Broadhurst, who led the research

The report said 2,018 newborns were made the subject of care proceedings in 2013, up from 802 in 2008.

The research showed that around half of the babies were taken from women who had other children in care, while a third were removed from teenage mothers.

We don't really know why the number has increased but there are a number of factors which could contribute.

There is more pressure to remove infants from situations of harm earlier because we can see the longer infants are left in situations of harm, the more psychological harm.

– Prof Broadhurst
The research showed that around half of the babies were taken from women who had other children in care. Credit: PA

The researchers interviewed 72 women "in depth" and found on average they had four babies taken into care.

Prof Broadhurst added: "These women had a child removed and then got into a pattern. They often talked about an initial unplanned pregnancy and then how having children removed exacerbated risky behaviour such as alcohol and drugs misuse.

"They described being in an absolute state of despair, suicidal and still completely and utterly destroyed by the process."

Prof Broadhurst said these "repeat clients" of the family court often followed the pattern seen in women who lost their babies or have a stillborn, becoming pregnant again "in quick succession".

On average the women interviewed had four babies taken into care. Credit: PA

She said: "As you have more babies removed the desire to replace the lost baby becomes stronger."

The report calls for a law to be introduced to make support for mothers who have their babies removed available.

She said: "The key issue is that England doesn't have any statutory requirements for post-removal support. There are not support services for young mothers with babies who have risky behaviours.

"We would like to see a statutory obligation on agencies to provide this to interrupt cycle early."

The researchers worked with Pause, a project funded by the Department for Education already working with repeat clients of the family court in seven UK locations, as a model.

Although Prof Broadhurst could not comment further, she said the woman who had 16 babies taken into care was now receiving support from Pause.