I received photocopies of lists of infants born in a town in Abruzzo in the mid 1800's. They were annotated in 1 of 3 ways: alive, dead (mort), or "esposse." My Italian dictionary says it means "exposed" in English, but what does the term really mean?
I found this article yesterday on the Home section of this site (ItalianGenealogy.com) and found it to be rather interesting. Perhaps it would clear up your question - particularly the first paragraph of "Historical Cases":
Tracing Italian Lineages of Adoptees and Ancestors Born Outside Marriage Posted on Thursday, 18 July 2002 (11:00:17) EDT