HEALTH

Footprint scanning technology aims to keep newborns safe

BY Briana Vannozzi, Correspondent |

Newborn Abigail Wojciechowski’s little feet are gently being pressed against a digital scanner. She’s the first baby in the state to be scanned into a new electronic system capturing an infant’s footprint, replacing the traditional ink and paper imprint used for years.

“We worry about if the baby is away from the mother, if the band falls off, this can positively ID the baby to the mother. It can be used as they’re older, too, if there’s an abduction or some kind of disaster. It can identify the person with the footprint,” said Debbie Ford-Thomson, mother baby unit manager at Saint Peter’s University Hospital.

Just like fingerprints, a footprint is the unique individual marker of the baby. It can be used as an identifier throughout a lifetime. The scan is typically taken a few hours after the baby is born and sent to a cloud. It’s also linked to a national missing and exploited children database as an added security feature.

“I think it’s a peace of mind in today’s age when unfortunately we have to worry about our kids being taken. I think it’s a great peace of mind knowing this technology exists. It makes a child track a little easier,” said father Lukasz Wojciechowski.

Mom’s index fingers are scanned too and linked with the baby’s file and digital photo — forever connecting them for familial identification. Footprints develop long before fingerprints at just 24 weeks gestation, so it can be used on even the tiniest of preemies in the NICU.

“The traditional method on paper it fades, it doesn’t collect the ridges as well on paper and it doesn’t last forever. This can last forever,” said Ford-Thomson.

Saint Peter’s University Hospital went live with the new CertaScan technology today. It’s free to parents and painless for the baby.

Saint Peter’s is just the 38th hospital in the nation to use this technology, but the first in the tri-state area.

“Saint Peter’s is the leader in mother and babies and the birthing of babies. We birth the most in the state, so it was important for us to have the most recent technology in order to protect our infants as well as patient satisfaction,” said Director of Women and Children’s Division Pamela Harmon.

Parents can access the file online with a password. It’s added protection and an enhanced keepsake.

“That’s definitely fun. I get to send it to the family, friends, put it on the card, introduce her to the family, s o that’s nice to have as well. And it’s automated, so I don’t have scan it or do anything. It’s sent to me on the computer, so that’s kind of nice,” said mother Alicia Wojciechowski.

Capturing more than just an imprint for new mom and dad.

TOPIC: HEALTH