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Q: Possible dangers of acrylic fingernails to premature babies ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Possible dangers of acrylic fingernails to premature babies
Category: Health
Asked by: calamityjane-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 28 Oct 2002 13:14 PST
Expires: 27 Nov 2002 13:14 PST
Question ID: 91318
Having surfed the internet about acrylic nails and preemies, I found
no great danger in such nails when kept clean but have recently been
told that a preemie has died in a hosp.. and  in either Richmond or
Norfolk, VA and that the infection wasd traced to an acrylic nail
wearing nurse.  As a mother with such nails, should I be worried?
Subject: Re: Possible dangers of acrylic fingernails to premature babies
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 29 Oct 2002 12:21 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
"Do not wear artificial fingernails or extenders when providing
patient care" is a Category 1A recommendation of the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. Category 1A recommendations are
"strongly recommended for implementation and strongly supported by
well-designed experimental, clinical or epidemiologic studies." In
light of this, and in view of the special risks of infection in
newborn infants, it would seem that a mother should carefully examine
the need for artificial nails, and should weigh her desire to have
attractive fingernails against the potential dangers.

I could not find references to cases in Richmond or in Norfolk, but a
few years ago, there were several infant deaths at Children's Hospital
in Oklahoma City which may have been related to acrylic fingernails.
Since I live in Oklahoma, I remember this news item vividly. Two of my
friends who had infants stopped wearing acryclic nails, on the advice
of their pediatricians, because of this story. Both have since
returned to having their nails done, now that their youngsters are


Bacteria found under the long fingernails of two nurses may have
contributed to the deaths of 16 sickly babies in 1997 and 1998 in an
Oklahoma City hospital, researchers say.  All of the babies were
newborns in the neo-natal intensive care unit at Children's Hospital
of Oklahoma, and all had infections caused by the same bacteria found
under the nurses' nails... The hospital called the CDC, which studied
the records of all the babies who had been in the unit in 1997 and the
first three months of 1998. Of 439 newborns admitted during that
period, 46 acquired the bacterial infection and 16 died. The study
found evidence of an association between the bacteria and exposure to
two nurses with long or artificial fingernails.

Earth Changes TV: Nail Bacteria Linked to Baby Deaths


A potentially lethal bacteria found under the fingernails of some
nurses at the Children's Hospital of Oklahoma may be linked to the
deaths of 16 babies there, according to a new study. ...Crutcher says
it seemed to be a "prudent recommendation in this high-risk setting
that health care workers not have artificial nails."

Web MD: Fingernail Bacteria Linked to Baby Deaths in Hospital


Here are several online references to the possible healthcare hazards
associated with artificial nails:

Local hospitals and kidney centers are banning long and artificial
fingernails, suspected of spreading infectious bacteria to patients...
The latest research suggests that false fingernails increase the odds
of dangerous germs moving among patients, even when hospital workers
wash their hands regularly. Once the germs get beneath the nails, it's
harder to get them out.

York News Times: Lincoln hospitals ban long, artificial fingernails


Artificial nails are being scratched from the list of appropriate
adornments for Foote Hospital employees. Fake nails already were
forbidden in certain areas including operating rooms... The CDC
suggests only that nails be kept short and artificial ones not be
worn. The agency is expected to issue further guidelines this year.

Detroit News: Hospital Cites Health Reasons in Banning Fake


The body of evidence implicating artificial nails and long natural
nails in health care-associated infections continues to grow.
Infections with pseudomonas and other gram-negative pathogens and
yeast have been associated with personnel wearing artificial nails.

3M Healthcare: New Proposed CDC Hand Hygiene Guidelines


University of Michigan researchers say nurses who wear acrylic nails
are more likely to pass germs on to their hospital patients.
Seventy-three percent of nurses studied who were wearing fake nails
had harmful bacteria on them. After hand washing, that number went
down to 68%, which is not exactly a huge reduction.

WPVI Television, Philadelphia: Fake Fingernails & Germs


Here you will find a partial list of hospitals that have banned or
restricted the use of artificial nails by patient caregivers:

University of Michigan Health System


If a mother or caregiver does choose to wear artificial nails, new
guidelines on hand hygiene from the CDC may be of interest:

The government issued guidelines Friday urging doctors and nurses to
abandon the ritual of washing their hands with soap and water between
patients and instead rub on fast-drying alcohol gels to kill more
germs. The goal: reduce the hospital spread of viruses and bacteria
that infect an estimated 2 million people in the United States each
year and kill about 90,000. Many hospitals, anticipating the new
guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have
already made the change, and studies show this can cut their infection
rates in half.

ABC News: U.S. Issues Hand-Washing Guidelines


My search strategy in investigating this subject consisted of various
combinations of the keywords "acrylic," "fingernails," "nails,"
"bacteria," "deaths," "infant," "children's hospital," and "oklahoma."

I hope this information is helpful. If I can offer further assistance,
or if any of the links above do not function, please request a
clarification before rating my answer.

Best wishes,
calamityjane-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00

Subject: Re: Possible dangers of acrylic fingernails to premature babies
From: wums2006-ga on 03 Nov 2002 15:02 PST
The sole danger of wearing acrylic nails, which is essentially
identical to that of maintaining long natural fingernails, is that the
crevice under the fingernail provides an environment highly conducive
to the proliferation of bacteria. In addition, the presence of the
nail makes it very difficult to adequately sanitize the area during
normal hand washing. As a consequence, health care workers are
generally required to have well-trimmed fingernails to help prevent
the spread of bacteria to the immuno-compromised patients often found
in the hospital setting. Similarly, anyone who lives with or is in
regular in contact with an immuno-compromised individual should
consider keeping their fingernails trimmed and avoid the use of
acrylic fingernails. Immuno-compromised individuals are those who have
weakened or under-developed immune systems, and include newborn
infants and persons who have recently experienced a serious illness or
have certain terminal illnesses such as AIDS or certain types of

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