Human Interest

Thailand nurses make tiny face shields so newborns can travel home safely

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world have been taking additional precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. When nurses at Praram 9 Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, learned that two newborn babies soon to be discharged from the hospital were going home via public transportation or taxi, they improvised a creative way to protect newborns from the virus on their journey home from the hospital: mini-face shields. Photos of the unique protective gear have been seen around the world.

The hospital told TIME that “the nurses worried about the babies’ well-being and they handcrafted the face shields.” While health experts recommend that adults and children wear face shields to prevent the spread of the virus from asymptomatic carriers, parents are generally advised not to put masks on newborns and children under the age of  two. The Thai hospital told TIME, “The face shields were just for a short-term protection.”

READ: Bittersweet: Photo of newborn meeting grandfather through window shows realities of COVID-19

In a Facebook post about the babies’ face shields, the hospital stated that this was a “unique case” and the face shields were only used to protect the babies from exposure on their trip directly home from the hospital, emphasizing that “safety is what we care about the highest.”

Explaining why young children should not routinely wear face masks, Dr. Jamie Macklin, a pediatric hospitalist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told TODAY, “Babies and young toddlers have smaller airways. Breathing through a mask can be harder for them. Using a mask on an infant can increase their risk of suffocation.” Macklin also noted that the CDC advises against placing a mask on anyone who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

The CDC states, “Mother-to-childtransmission of coronavirus during pregnancy is unlikely, but after birth a newborn is susceptible to person-to-person spread.” The unique protective measures taken in Thailand show how doctors and nurses are truly caring for the vulnerable during this challenging time.

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