Seven newborn babies were given to the wrong mothers to breastfeed in New South Wales hospitals from 2011 through 2015. The babies were potentially exposed to serious health risks in these distressing mix-ups in the NSW health system.

The NSW health has refused to disclose the names of the hospitals involved in the incident. However, documents released under freedom of information laws revealed that all incidents occurred in public hospitals and the Health ministry claimed that no mix-ups happened in private hospitals.

Jillian Skinner, the NSW Minister for Health, insists that this occurrence is rare. Apparently, there are 100,000 babies born in NSW public hospitals each year.

One mother, 22-year old Stefanie Phillips of Bateau Bay, was distraught after her newborn daughter, Ellie, was given to another mother in Gosford Hospital in August 2015. She said that the lack of midwives is the problem and the government must do something to solve this.

It tore Philips up when she could not breastfeed her own daughter. Another mother breastfed and got post-birth skin-to-skin contact with Ellie, which left the young mother speechless.

Fortunately, Western Sydney University’s professor of Midwifery Hannah Dahlen said that chances of transmitting illnesses such as HIV or Hepatitis B through breast milk was very low. Nevertheless, the biggest concern was the psychological distress the mothers and their babies experienced.

The mother’s breast milk has natural antibodies that protect babies from disease so the mix-up could deprive a newborn of the natural immunity. Plus, because of the psychological trauma, the affected mothers are offered counselling and support.

Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord said that parents have every right to be furious. He added that this is every new mum’s worst nightmare.

“I want them to publicly release a list of hospitals where these mix-ups occurred,” Walt Secord said. “The community has a right to know. This is the human cost of the massive cuts to the health and hospital system.”