It sounds like something you’re more likely to see in soap operas than in real life. But the parental nightmare of babies switched at birth does happen from coast to coast, in America and around the world too. Popular TV shows like ABC’s Switched at Birth and even popular literature have explored—and yes, exploited— this topic because it is so horrifying, yet fascinating.
But if you’re growing your family, should you really be concerned about babies switched at birth at the hospital or even at the daycare center? Here are some facts.
Baby Swap: Some Quick Stats
- Up to 500,000 babies every year are at potential risk of going home with the wrong parent, sometimes even despite the sophisticated identification methods employed by hospitals
- Although it’s difficult to document specifically, some estimates say that at any given point during their stay in the hospital, as many as one in four babies may be temporarily given to the wrong parents
- Up to 18 babies a year may actually go home with families that aren’t their own, although the baby switch is generally caught almost immediately after the incident
Despite the statistics above, only eight incidents of babies switched at birth were physically documented in the United States between 1995 and 2008. It may be because there is no mandate in America for incidents to be reported, which makes getting hard stats nearly impossible until that changes.
In Real Life: Baby Switch Nightmares
Mtsensk, Central Russia
When her child was two-years-old, a Russian mother discovered that her baby’s maternity-ward ID tag had a different woman’s name on it. She soon met the other mother and their sons were swapped yet again. It’s been a difficult adjustment for both families and the nurse responsible for these babies switched at birth was fired.
A mother’s intuition kicked in when she was sent home from Heartland Regional Medical Center with her newborn son. She felt like something just wasn’t right. Sure enough, she found out within hours that she had the wrong boy and that her son had been sent home with someone else. Apparently, the babies’ ID tags were switched when they were circumcised.
In 2015, a British man and his Salvadoran wife gave birth to a baby boy at the Hospital Centro Ginecologico. The brown-skinned, dark-haired baby looked just his mother—or so they thought. It turns out they went home to Texas with the wrong child. The couple raised the child for three months, but got suspicious. A DNA test proved the baby wasn’t theirs, and the babies switched at birth were restored to their proper families. The couple’s baby was blonde and blue-eyed after all, like his British dad.
How to Prevent Babies Switched at Birth
- Contact the hospital where you’ll give birth ahead of time and ask them specific questions about the measures they take to prevent an accidental baby swap. It’s your baby, and you have a right to ask this important question!
- Next, be vigilant about your baby’s whereabouts when you are in the hospital. Many mothers today refuse to even let their babies out of their sight during their stay
- Check your baby’s identification tags whenever you are with them and definitely before you leave the hospital
- Pay attention to your inner voice—if you feel strange about whether or not your baby’s yours, or if something just doesn’t feel right, speak out and do something about it. Get a maternity test from a trusted, accredited lab to confirm the baby’s identity
If you suspect that your baby or child may have been switched, or if you’re an adult who’s not sure of your parentage, the surest way to put your mind and heart at ease is to do a DNA maternity test. It works just like a paternity test: all it takes is a quick cheek swab and a desire to know the truth.
Call us at 800-929-0847: We’re here to help.
Do you have questions or comments about babies switched at birth or maternity testing? Share in the comments and we’ll answer.
I have doubts that i might be a baby that was mixed at birth in the hospital 60 years ago. I have try over the years to get the woman who has raised me to take a blood test she refuses. Is there any thing i can do by myself to clear up this doubt i have had to live with for so many years?
Hi, C. Unless there are other close biological to your mother who are willing to test, there’s really nothing you can do. If there are other relatives and you want to discuss your best options for testing, you’re welcome to call us for a confidential consultation: 800-681-7162.
I know of a woman who thinks her baby was switched at birth. Birthday….. June 3rd, 1968 Is there a place where people can search for each other in cases like this? The child in question is now missing for any chances of DNA testing. Simons… or similar spelling. Location Victoria B.C. Could be a boy or a girl.
Hi, Mrs. P. Are you saying that the child raised by the woman is now missing? That’s too bad, since a maternity DNA test would have answered that question easily and quickly. The only thing I can think of is to have the woman do an ancestry test with ancestry.com and hope that the supposed other child is also uploading their DNA. Otherwise, she may want to hire a private investigator, although that’s a long shot.
All of my life I have felt either I was switched at birth or I have a twin or both I was born in New York City my 09/28/1968 please my parents and grandparents are all passed away however I do have a younger sister
Hi, Nanna. You’re welcome to contact our DNA experts directly to help determine your best testing options: 800-681-7162 (M-F, 8 AM to 5 PM Eastern) or email [email protected].
I believe my older brother might have been switched at birth, DEC1964 in NY. My parents were advised he died during birth. (Never discussed in our family) I understand NY records are very secure. If I submit a DNA test, he would have to have one on record already or I just wait to see one for him is ever submitted, correct? I’m currently inquiring about his birth/death records with the county I believe he was born in. Any other suggestions are appreciated.
Hi, Al. You would need to check with the New York Department of Vital Records to see if a baby born in 1964 would have a blood card on record containing his DNA. You may want to try uploading your DNA to one of the ancestry-testing sites to see if you have any close matches with other people who may have made their DNA data public. Good luck!
Most people who were switched at birth were born at St. Mary’s in West Palm or in Texas. Most of them were switched with babies stolen from Gainesville, Florida, who has a hospital where NO babies leave, or Lubbock, Texas, same as Gainesville. Making them the baby switched and stolen capital of the eastern and western US. This has ALWAYS happened. The greeks get left in the Italian’s place. Most switched and stolen babies are bedwetters.
Where do you get this info? Proof? I have 4 children born at St Marys….
Hi what are the best advices that we can give to both mothers which their child were switched at birth just for them to deal with the situation?
I learnt recently that my aunt, who is now in her 60s, I believe, was switched at birth. This was discovered when she was 16 and I was wondering if there was any way now to find out who the other person is. My grandma assumed there were no records left after the fire burnt down the hospital, which may or may not be true. Is there any way I can find my biological aunt?
Hi, Jayden. The best place to start might be with an ancestry DNA company that provides the option to compare your DNA publicly with other people who have made the same choice. With any luck, your biological aunt may have done an ancestry test as well. This wouldn’t confirm the connection, but it could narrow your field of search. Good luck!
Yes I believe one of my children was switched at birth. She was made aware of this when she turned about 30. I will always love her regardless of the results, but I really need answers. Her father has a new family and accepts her regardless of the results too, but I am the one who gave birth. I have every right to know who I gave birth to. Looking at baby pics of my baby photographed before leaving the hospital, several people agree, they are of two different babies. I so very much need answers. Please can you help me?
Hi, Christine. That’s so tragic if you’re correct! What a lot of people are doing now is submitting their DNA to ancestry sites that share data publicly as part of their service. That way, if the other child has done testing, you might be able to get leads that way. Good luck!
I have noticed that I have been taking care of 2 children that were switched with mine at birth and those children have been switched as they are growing. I suspect horrible things about my biological childrens up bringing but I loved those kids like they were my own. As I started realizing this the two children I have started being abused by society in my town. And I suspect that they are being used for drug transport. I don’t know what but I am 45 and resent that not only are my children not here but its not a normal life without a child to have. I feel the Meadville Medical Center has robbed me like a joke and I don’t want to live and pay taxes in this sweatshop city I live in.
Hi Mike here, my late mother was never in formed that I have A/B pos blood, she had O neg blood. She couldn’t have given birth to me. I was born in Lubbock TX. 1961. Any laws that would help me find my real family?
Hi, Mike. Legal questions are best answered by a family-law attorney in Texas. Good luck!
Mike I am in the same boat, My dad was ab- and my mom is b there is no way that I could have been born with that blood type. I’m wonder what to do as well.
I had a premature sln in evansville in 2007 he was in nicu for a while. My firat two weeks of pictures of feeding holding and so on were of a baby with olive colored skin and dark eyes. I went in one night for a feeding and the bed wasnt there. They said he had stopped breathing in the middle of the night but it was sleep apenia and had moved him to the better side of nicu. There they led me to a baby that had blonde hair and blue eyes and sent me home with said child a week later after on the same day the pediatrician stated he had to stay an additional 3 weeks. So either they sent me home with wrong child or i took care if a strangers child for 2 weeks. It has bothered me every day since. Is the child at beginning mine or not, did he die did someone take care of the baby i brought home. The weirdest thing is they didnt circumcise him for 3weeks and another dr from a different hospital did that. In whuch u recieved a bill for cause they wernt in our insurance group.
They did say the day he was born his blood type was ab- which i thought was weird because im o+. Is this even pissible.
Hi, Samantha. Have you considered doing a DNA maternity test with the child to make sure you’re the biological mother? You can learn more about it here: https://dnacenter.com/relationship-testing/maternity/
Is there anyway to find out if a person was switched at birth, if that person’s mother has already passed? Reason for question, my mother told me I was switched at birth in 1964 at a dupage county hospital in Illinois
Hi, Brenda. Is your father still living or do you have other siblings with whom you could test to determine if a biological relationship exists? Those would be your best options.
My wife and I are white. Our new baby is a black boy. We were supposed to have a girl. I suspect a switch may have been made at some point.
Hi, Will. Doing a paternity test and maternity test would confirm that mystery. Call us at 800-681-7162 (M-F, 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern).
I have suspected most of my life that I was switched at birth. County records and birth certificate state my parents however, I am a RN and know blood typing, I know 3 out of 4 blood types and my mother plays dumb and lies. She doesn’t know her blood type but with knowing my father is Rh+, Brother Rh+, I’m Rh-. I’m not sure if my mother would agree to a DNA test or not.
My son was born Dec 5, 1979. During birth the doctor refused to let my husband in the deliver ery room. After the delivery I was out if it for about 24 hours. The pediatrician made a distinction betweenmy son’shair and his brothers who he had never seen. We were black parents with brown curly hair, (but had white ancestors.) People have assumed our son was white, because of his straight blonde hair. When he was seven months old we were told that he was autistic. Our son passed when he was 26 years old. His father has since passed. My son’s death certificate states that he is white. I still wonder if there was a switch made
My parents used to joke when I was 4 /5 year’s old that my brother 3 yrs younger want theirs. Swapped at the hospital they would say. Later as a teen my mother would say how she loved her children very much, but it never felt genuine. My father never did accept my brother like he did me. Didn’t see it back then…but now it to hard to forget. My mother is Vietnamese and my father is a white as you can get marine. Meet here in California. I look asian/white more white though. But my brother looks latino/ white. His oldest son looks more like Mexican than than white..when we were younger we did look alike sorta, but now. no way.. I just want to obtain birth records from the hospital on that one day. Cross check with photos found online and just see what turns up. I don’t want this getting back to my brother(even though he already believes it’s true.). Ist there a way to look up births from a specific day from a specific hospital?
That is not a question we can answer. Perhaps someone else on this forum can. I will caution you on one thing: Children inherit genes going back generations and siblings can inherit different genes, and so using a judgment that someone “looks Mexican” is completely subjective and not proof of anything.