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Italy Takes High-Tech Tactics for Abandoned Babies

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Italy Takes High-Tech Tactics for Abandoned Babies

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Italy Takes High-Tech Tactics for Abandoned Babies

Italy Takes High-Tech Tactics for Abandoned Babies

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/7730566/7758443" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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A streetside view of a 'baby box' in Rome, where mothers can safely abandon their children. Printed in six languages, the poster reads: "Don't abandon your baby. Leave it with us." Sylvia Poggioli, NPR hide caption

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Sylvia Poggioli, NPR

A streetside view of a 'baby box' in Rome, where mothers can safely abandon their children. Printed in six languages, the poster reads: "Don't abandon your baby. Leave it with us."

Sylvia Poggioli, NPR

Built in 1198, the original 'foundling wheel' was a rotating platform that allowed women to leave their babies without being seen. It was installed outside Santo Spirito Hospital near the Vatican on orders from Pope Innocent III. Sylvia Poggioli, NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Sylvia Poggioli, NPR

Built in 1198, the original 'foundling wheel' was a rotating platform that allowed women to leave their babies without being seen. It was installed outside Santo Spirito Hospital near the Vatican on orders from Pope Innocent III.

Sylvia Poggioli, NPR

Alarmed by the rising number of abandoned newborn babies, Italy is finding high-tech ways for mothers to safely leave their infants without being seen.

The idea of a safe receptacle for an unwanted infant is not new. In 1198, Pope Innocent III was dismayed by the number of newborns caught in the nets of fishermen on the Tiber River.

He ordered the first Medieval "foundling wheel" — a rotating platform located in the wall of a church that allowed women to anonymously leave their newborns.

Today's version, located at a hospital in one of Rome's poorest districts, resembles a large ATM.

It features a heated crib behind a glass hatch. Electronic sensors alert doctors when a baby is dropped off.

Many of the abandoned children are the offspring of illegal immigrants who are too afraid to seek health care and ignorant of their rights.

Hoping to create a safe environment for a painful decision, the Italian minister of family affairs has proposed installing a "baby box" in every maternity ward in the country.