Most adults have some form of identity protection, but a new hospital technology is ensuring security by fingerprinting newborns from the moment they come into the world.
The Torrance Memorial Medical Center is the first hospital to use a new biometric identification system to help protect infant identity and safety. The innovative technology was developed at the University of California San Diego, with clinical trials starting in January of this year.
The ID system captures accurate fingerprints as early as an infant’s day of birth, eliminating the need for paper identification. Called CertaScan, the technology takes high-resolution footprints and handprints, so children can be precisely identified in case of abduction, natural disaster or other situations with a high safety risk.
In accordance with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) guidelines, the system also takes security photos and scans the mother’s fingerprints to link her to her baby. The technology provides a higher level of security for the 3,000 infants delivered every year at Torrance Memorial, and nurses prefer the straightforward system to the traditional method of filing and signing papers.
Registered nurse Natalie Thorpe told NBCLA, “This technology would be instrumental in connecting families back together… in the case of children being separated from their parents.” In the case of abductions, a baby’s prints “would be accessible right away… There would be no delay in confirming who the baby belongs to.”
Though the CertaScan system is just starting to be implemented in California hospitals, it could be lifesaving worldwide. Especially in remote areas and in the cases of disaster relief, refugee settlement, and human trafficking, this kind of technology can make a big difference in child identification.
“We think we’ve solved the problem of infant identification for both developed and developing countries,” Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine told Medical Xpress. “This new technology allows for quick, accurate fingerprinting that may eliminate the need for paper identification and improve health care and security for millions.”
Researchers at UC San Diego, unlike others who have tried to use adult technology to fingerprint children, approached the design from the ground up, with infants and caregivers in mind.
They made their scanning technology portable, and compatible across many platforms. It works equally well with infants and adults. This kind of identification can help prevent infectious disease outbreaks, protect from identity fraud, assist refugees, and reunite families.
“Accurate identification of a child to enable timely vaccinations can improve care, reduce disease burden and save lives,” Spencer said. “This is just the beginning.”