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South African Toddlers Switched at Birth Shouldn't Be Exchanged, Expert Says

The two children, a boy and a girl, were born on the same day in a Johannesburg hospital but were taken home and raised by the wrong parents.
Maternity ward
Empty baby beds stand in the maternity ward of a hospital.Getty Images, file
/ Source: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG — Two South African toddlers accidentally swapped at birth should stay with the families who raised them and not be returned to their biological parents, a court-appointed expert said Wednesday. The two children, a boy and a girl who are now aged four, were born on the same day in 2010 in a Johannesburg hospital but ended up being taken home and raised by the wrong parents after nurses mixed up their identities. The families were unaware of the mistake until one of the mothers underwent tests when her ex-husband refused to pay child support. One of the mothers had initially wanted to get her biological child back, while the other preferred to keep the one she had raised, leaving the North Gauteng High Court to decide.

The court asked the University of Pretoria's Centre for Child Law to investigate and report back on what would be in the children's best interests, which are given a prominent position in matters concerning minors under South African law. "The recommendation is that the children should stay with the parents who have raised them and should also be permitted to have contact with their biological parents," said Ann Skelton, director of the center. The court has not set a date to decide the final fate of the children.

— Reuters