Evaluating Infant Security Options Are Umbilical Clamps a Safe Choice?
By Penny Johnson
During their hospital stay, most new parents respond positively when they learn that their newborn will be wearing a security tag, or transmitter, to protect their infant and help prevent an abduction.
Other security systems on the market use a security clamp that attaches to the newborn’s umbilical stump.
While the intent is the same – protecting infants – both hospital staff and parents should be wary of a solution that relies on attaching security monitoring equipment to an umbilical stump.
Staff Concerns: Infection
When the umbilical cord is cut at birth, what remains is a gelatinous stump that dries up and withers away, falling off within 5-15 days. Prior to falling off, the umbilical stump is considered a healing wound. Its moist nature provides an excellent medium for bacteria to thrive. In an effort to avoid infection, great care is taken when clamping and cutting the umbilical cord.
When evaluating the safety of an umbilical security clamp, medical personnel are most concerned about infection. Cases of umbilical infection in the U.S. and other industrialized countries average about one out of every 200 births.
U.S. hospitals experienced epidemic outbreaks of staphylococcus cord infections in the 1950s. The epidemic was attributed to the practice of placing infants in nurseries in close quarters, and the practice of not bathing newborns prior to discharge, which could have been 10 days or more.
Although cord infections are less common now, recurrent epidemics of streptococcal infections have been reported. When an infection develops, it normally appears on the third day of life. Since most infants are discharged within 48 hours of birth, the newborn has usually already left the hospital when the infection occurs, requiring a trip to the doctor or readmission.
Parent Concerns: Comfort & Safety
With infant security systems, parents are by far most concerned about their baby’s comfort and safety. That’s why many can be uneasy when they see an umbilical clamp attached to what is considered a healing wound.
What happens if the umbilical stump falls off early? In one case, discussed on www.babycenter.com’s community boards, one mother reported her baby’s cord and the umbilical tag fell off earlier than normal. If the stump falls off, and the umbilical security clamp with it, parents will wonder if their baby is still protected.
The hospital staff may not even receive notification that the clamp and tag are no longer attached to the baby, increasing the risk of a potential abduction.
What to Look for in an Infant Security Solution
Choose a security system that is designed by nurses – the people that will use the system most! The system should use soft, lightweight materials to protect infants and put parents at ease.
The system should have multiple security measures in place and immediately alert staff if a security device, such as an infant security transmitter, is removed.
Ultimately, hospitals should look for an infant security solution that not only meets their security needs but will also make their patients feel safe and comfortable.
“The umbilical things DO tug at the umbilical cord and even twist it. This has to be at least uncomfortable, if not painful.”
“They are big and bulky, they bump up against the diaper, and the clamps leave marks on my newbie’s tummy.”
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