Chinese baby
China: 'baby hatch' in Guangzhou shuts after too many infants abandoned                             Wikimedia Commons

Chinese authorities have closed a baby hatch in Guangzhou, capital of Guandong, after a dramatic increase in the number of abandoned babies, according to news agency Xinhua.

Since it opened on 28 January 2014, the baby hatch - a place where parents can abandon unwanted new-born infants - has received 262 abandoned babies.

The 262 figure includes 148 boys and 114 girls, according to the city's Bureau of Civil Affairs.

"Due to an increasing number of abandoned babies at the baby hatch, the orphanage's ability to receive those babies has reached the limit," said Xu Jiu, director of Guangzhou Social Welfare Institute, at a briefing.

The centre was opened so that parents could abandon their children in a safe place, rather than on the streets.

At the baby hatch, parents can leave their child, press an alarm button and then leave, remaining anonymous.

Someone then comes to retrieve the baby within ten minutes.

"The main reasons for establishing the 'abandoned baby safety island' were to prevent the babies suffering from further physical and mental damage from a negative environment, and to increase their survival rate by ensuring they get timely help and medical treatment," Li Bo, who works at China Centre for Children's Welfare and Adoption, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

All the babies left at the baby hatch suffered from diseases, including 110 cases of cerebral palsy, 39 cases of Down's syndrome, and 32 cases of congenital heart disease, the bureau said.

According to Xinhua, more than two dozen baby hatches had been set up since the first one opened in the city of Shijiazhuang in Hebei province in 2011; Chinese authorities said they will open more.

Guangzhou is the first to suspend the program.

Baby hatches have been widely criticised as they are considered an encouragement for parents to abandon their children.

Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo, however, told reporters during the annual parliament meetings in March that baby hatches "do more good than harm".

New-borns are abandoned mainly because their parents cannot afford to raise them, other times due to disabilities.

"A disabled child can be a huge drain on a family's resources, and although the country's one-child policy normally allows parents to have another baby if their first is disabled, the restrictions can be a factor in other abandonments," AFP reported.