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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 18:15 GMT 19:15 UK
Cooing at new-born babies banned
A West Yorkshire hospital has banned visitors from cooing at new-born babies over fears their human rights are being breached and to reduce infection.

A statement from Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax said staff had held an advice session to highlight the need for respect and dignity for patients.

On one ward there is a doll featuring the message: "What makes you think I want to be looked at?"

But Labour MP Linda Riordan said the measures were "bureaucracy gone mad".

Cooing should be a thing of the past because these are little people
Debbie Lawson, neo-natal manager

She told the Halifax Courier: "All mothers want people to admire their babies because all babies are beautiful.

"But in a case where a mother did not want to answer questions it should be up to that individual to say so."

Some new mothers have already said they are astonished by the rules which stop people asking questions about their babies or looking at them in maternity wards.

Debbie Lawson, neo-natal manager at the hospital's special care baby unit, said: "Cooing should be a thing of the past because these are little people with the same rights as you or me.

'Infection control'

"We often get visitors wandering over to peer into cots but people sometimes touch or talk about the baby like they would if they were examining tins in a supermarket and that should not happen."

If a baby I was cooing over asked me to stop because I was infringing on their human rights then I would
Pej, London, UK

A spokeswoman for Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust said the advice was as much to do with reducing infection as it was upholding "rights".

In a statement she said: "Staff were wishing to highlight issues of potential confidentiality, especially for young babies and their parents in what can be emotional times.

"Infection control was also a key part of the message as the unit deals with very small babies with very vulnerable immune systems."

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