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Nurse Monica Morris recently scans the foot of a newborn at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

A new electronic system is now taking digital scans of newborns’ footprints, improving security and creating more accurate records.

Mayo Clinic Health System has installed the infant safety system at its birth centers in Eau Claire, Barron and Menomonie.

“We’re excited to offer this as an additional safety feature,” said Shawn Kowalsky, nurse manager in the family birth center at the Eau Claire hospital.

The high-resolution, digital scanning system was installed a few weeks ago and went live in Eau Claire on Feb. 3. Menomonie has also started using the system, and Barron is slated to begin using it this week. Kowalsky said the health care centers are the first hospitals in the area to provide the service. She didn’t know the cost of the new equipment.

“This has been a project in the works for a year, to a year and a half,” Kowalsky said. “It’s a new concept to provide safety and security to our patients. It’s up and coming (technology). Most hospitals do (collect) footprints, one way or another.”

The machine is small, connected to a laptop and sitting on a portable cart, so it can be easily moved around the birth center, she said.

“It digitally scans the footprints minutes after birth,” she said.

This replaces the older system of placing a foot in ink and onto paper, and it can easily be printed.

“The digital scanning gives more precise details to a footprint,” she said. “It also provides parents with a keepsake.”

The data is easily stored in records alongside other pertinent birth information in the electronic health records, she added.

“Much like fingerprints, footprints are unique to each baby, so they can be used for identification throughout a child’s lifetime,” the health care system’s press release states. “The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends the system in its most recent infant security guidelines.”

In 2019, 928 infants were born at the Mayo Clinic Health Systems location in Eau Claire.