(CNN)Thousands of babies and children died in 18 of Ireland's mother and baby homes -- church-run institutions where unmarried women were sent to deliver their babies in secret, often against their will -- over eight decades, according to a landmark report.
Ireland's 'brutally misogynistic culture' saw the death of 9,000 children in mother and baby homes, report finds
On Tuesday, the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters -- which was set up to investigate what happened in 14 mother and baby homes and four county homes from 1922 to 1998 -- announced the 9,000 deaths as part of the final findings of its near six-year inquiry.
Around 56,000 people -- from girls as young as 12, to women in their 40s -- were sent to the 18 institutions investigated, where some 57,000 children were born, according to the report.
One in seven of those children (15%) didn't survive long enough to leave the homes, yet no alarm was raised by the State over the high mortality rates, even though it was "known to local and national authorities" and was "recorded in official publications," the report found.
Prior to 1960, mother and baby homes "did not save the lives of 'illegitimate' children; in fact, they appear to have significantly reduced their prospects of survival," it said.
The report called the infant mortality rates the most "disquieting feature of these institutions."
Speaking on Tuesday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the report "opens a window onto a deeply misogynistic culture in Ireland over several decades," and that the report "reveals significant failures of the state and of society."
Martin formally apologized to the survivors of the homes on Wednesday, for the "profound generational wrong" visited upon them.
Speaking in the Irish parliament, he said the report was a "moment for us as a society, to recognize a profound failure of empathy, understanding and basic humanity, over a very lengthy period."
"I want to emphasize that each of you were in an institution because of the wrongs of others, each of you is blameless," Martin said, addressing the survivors.
The report, which runs to more than 2,800 pages, was released just days after its key findings were leaked to a national newspaper -- compounding the pain and anguish of survivors who have waited years for the final report -- and who had been promised a first view of it by the Minister of Children.
In his apology, Martin also discussed th