Guangdong health authorities have launched a 10-month inquiry into the trade in forged birth certificates after mainland media reports that such documents were being used to provide false identities for abducted children. Guangdong's New Express newspaper sparked the inquiry after reporting claims by a volunteer, who helps families of abducted children, that a rampant trade in fake certificates in Guangdong had made it too easy for couples buying stolen children to obtain new identities. Guangdong's Health and Family Planning Commission confirmed it had launched an inquiry following the newspaper report. It also said four staff working at a Tieyong township hospital were suspended after two doctors, specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology, were allegedly found to have forged children's birth histories and issued two birth certificates. The authority told all hospitals across Guangdong to carry out careful inspections when processing birth certificates. It also asked telecommunications authorities to help reform online advertising involving the purchase of birth certificates. The authority said its database, recording birth certificate information, would be improved, and shared with the police. New Express said on Wednesday that couples had spent tens of thousands of yuan buying birth certificates. The certificates prove identity and are vital for obtaining a hukou , or household registration. A clinic in Huidong county charged the newspaper's undercover journalist 7,500 yuan (HK$9,400) to issue a false birth certificate. Agents claiming to be able to obtain fake birth certificates used online chatrooms to contact families looking to buy documents and charged fees from 4,500 yuan to 30,000 yuan. The undercover journalist reported finding agents in Shanghai, and Xingtai in Hebei province, and Anyang in Henan province, all claiming that they could provide birth certificates issued by the Guangzhou Panyu District Women and Children's Hospital. The Guangzhou health authority said Panyu District Women and Children's Hospital had not lost any birth certificates since 2012. The authority said certificates provided by agents had been faked with codes that were not in use in the city.