Continued from page 1

“It’s important to stress that, as things stand, our assessment is that no one else was involved and it is apparently the case — incredible as it might seem — that no one noticed the pregnancies or the birth of these children,” he said.

A judge has ordered the woman held in custody pending a formal indictment, which typically takes several months in Germany. Ms. Stahlmann-Liebelt said it was too early to say what penalty the woman might face if convicted.

There have been several cases in recent years in Germany of women who have killed several of their own children, though the country’s infanticide rate overall is similar to other Western European nations.

In the worst case, a woman was convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison for killing eight of her newborn babies and burying them in flower pots and a fish tank in the garden of her parents’ home near the German-Polish border.