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Abandoned Newborn Recovering

June 14, 2002|HECTOR BECERRA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A newborn girl covered in blood and dirt and left naked among shrubs outside a Panorama City apartment building was recovering Thursday from hypothermia, hospital officials said.

A woman who lives in the building found the baby--a few hours old and born premature--crying in the cold about 1:45 a.m. Thursday, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Adolfo Godinez said.

Sonia Briones, a mother of three, wrapped the infant in her shirt, brought her inside and called police, authorities said.

The baby had been lying face up in bushes outside an apartment at 14695 Parthenia St., Godinez said. Her umbilical cord was still attached.

"She's doing OK right now--she's very lucky to have been found," said Dr. Philippe Friedlich, a neonatologist at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. "Babies do not shiver. They just kind of go to sleep, shut down to conserve energy."

The baby was being treated in a "radiant warming bed," Friedlich said. She will be under the care of the Department of Children and Family Services.

She was the second infant found abandoned in the county since Monday, when a baby girl's battered body was found on a conveyor belt at a City of Industry waste plant. The baby had died of blunt-force trauma, authorities said, but it is not known when the trauma occurred.

The abandonment of newborns continues despite a state "safe haven" law that allows anyone to leave an unwanted infant at a hospital emergency room within 72 hours of birth--no questions asked and without risk of arrest or prosecution. Friedlich said he does not recall a single instance of an infant being left at the hospital.

An official at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, one of the busiest hospitals in the country, said, despite the law, no one has ever left an unwanted baby there either.

Earlier this month, the county Board of Supervisors extended the safe haven law to fire stations and health clinics.

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