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Lausanne hospital plans baby-tagging project

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Lausanne hospital plans baby-tagging project
Photo: CHUV
10:06 CEST+02:00
Lausanne's CHUV hospital is planning to strap magnetic bracelets to all newborn babies in an effort to increase security.

The anti-theft scheme, which will be introduced in the next few months, follows the lead of the US, Canada, France and Portgual, which already use similar devices in their hospitals.

CHUV’s baby bracelet, which could be worn either on the wrist or the ankle, will transmit its location by radio wave to antennae placed in the hospital, according to a report in newspaper Le Matin.

The bracelet will alert hospital staff should the baby be taken outside the authorized zone.

Talking to the paper, the hospital’s head of security Laurent Meier said the bracelet is a pre-emptive measure.

“We already have security measures. This is in addition. We have to react before something serious happens,” he said.

“There are different settings, and multiple alert levels,” he said of the bracelets. “First of all it will alert medical staff, then security personnel. We can block the doors and even the lifts.”

CHUV’s proposition is not one being followed by other hospitals in Switzerland.

In Geneva and Fribourg, maternity wards are already secured by magnetic card and access is limited.

“This bracelet hasn’t proved its efficiency,” Dr Anis Feki, head of obstetrics at Fribourg cantonal hospital told Le Matin.

Dr Virginie Briet of Geneva’s Hôpitaux Universaires de Genève said the bracelet was unnecessary as the policy of maternity wards was to keep newborns with their mothers 24 hours a day.

However Meier told Le Matin: “It will give mothers more freedom to walk about with their babies.”

The copresident of the Vaud branch of the Swiss federation of midwives, Geraldine Zehnder-Joliat, questioned whether the step was a security level too far.

“It’s obvious that mothers should feel reassured and safe with their babies, but are we not creating fears which currently don’t really exist?”

A hospital in Neuchâtel has abandoned a similar project after a father in Portgual managed to remove his child from the ward by cutting off the bracelet.

“The bracelet’s efficiency is not proved,” said the hospital’s head of gynaecology. “It’s also too expensive and poses environmental problems.”

Meanwhile in Basel, a socialist town councillor wants all nursing mothers to have their breast milk tested for a toxic insecticide after the substance found its way into the food chain, reports 20 Minutes.

Stehpan Luethi fears that residues of lindane – an internationally banned pesticide – have contaminated various local foods and as a result may have passed into mother’s milk.

The contamination derives from an old water treatment plant in Huningue, near Basel, which was originally constructed over a lindane waste depot.

Basel-based pharmaceutical giant Novartis attempted to decontaminate the site in 2013, but was unable to prevent the dispersion of lindane particles in the air.

However the risk to nursing mothers remains unproven.

Alex Odermatt, toxicologist at the University of Basel, told 20 Minutes “A large concentration of lindane would be needed to observe concrete effects.

“Similar substances are only harmful if the person has direct contact with it. Babies of mothers who have inhaled the substance have a very small risk of suffering any effects.”

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