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Waiting too long to name your baby could be dangerous

As if we didn’t have enough pressure to come up with the “perfect” baby name, a new study indicates that parents whose babies aren’t named when they’re delivered in a hospital may be more at risk of medical mistakes while they’re there.

While some parents choose a baby name early on, other parents prefer to wait until after they’ve seen their little one emerge into the world before they tag them, for life, with a moniker. And some parents simply need more discussion time. However, waiting may come with a risk, as a group of researchers says.

Babies who enter the world without a name are often put into a hospital’s computer system with a generic baby name, such as Babygirl Last Name or, in the case of twins, BabygirlA Last Name and BabygirlB Last Name. This non-distinct naming trend, however, may come with a price. Even if a parent chooses a name before the baby is discharged, the name may not make its way into the hospital system, and there can be mix-ups by hospital staff.

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And you don’t want mix-ups. It’s less of an issue if your baby doesn’t need medical care after birth, but those tiny tots who wind up in the NICU can wind up with medication and treatment errors, which can be life-threatening.

So what’s the solution? You could encourage parents-to-be to already have a name picked out before labor begins, but that’s a far-from-perfect idea. Study author Jason Adelman, internist and patient safety officer at Montefiore Health System in New York, has a different solution — incorporate Mom’s first name into the baby’s name in the hospital computer system. For example, a daughter of mine would be Monicasgirl, and a son would be Monicasboy. With a year-long trial run of this type of naming system, the rate of near-errors was reduced by 36 percent.

But really, there is so much pressure on picking a baby name anyway. I know your mom or uncle has been pestering you about that, haven’t they? And some couples aren’t always on the same page with the names they’d like, or they’re constantly getting suggestions and judgment on the names they choose, and it can be a huge struggle. While not everyone arrives at the hospital with an unnamed baby-to-be, it’s not super unusual — and in reality, it’s common enough to warrant investigation into hospital naming systems.

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Adelman hopes that the results of their study will encourage hospitals to move toward this alternative naming system, and in the meantime, if you could just look over that baby list one more time, that would be great (wink, wink).

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