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Making a Softer and Safer Medical Tape

Babies born with serious medical conditions often spend their first few days in the intensive-care unit of a hospital, so they can be cared for. While they are there, medical workers put tape on the babies to hold down tubes and electronic devices.

Experts say having to change the tape daily or remove it can be painful and even dangerous. Removing the tape from a baby's sensitive skin can cause injuries, in some cases even causing the skin to tear.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology says more than 1 million people suffer skin injuries from medical tape removal each year. But now there is a new kind of medical tape that may end this problem. The new tape is much softer and safer.

Dr. Jeff Karp helped create the new tape. He works the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He says newborns moved to the intensive-care unit are usually very sick. He says medical tape is very important to secure devices to the baby's skin for monitoring.

Dr. Karp says this is one of the biggest problems facing hospitals. So, he and his team wanted to create a medical tape that could be removed without harming the skin. Medical tape has two layers: a non-sticky backing and the sticky part.

Dr. Karp's new tape adds another layer of sticky adhesive. It remains on the skin after the tape is removed. Dr. Karp says this adhesive can be easily removed with talcum powder.The new, softer adhesive tape was designed for newborns. But the researchers say it will also help much older patients, whose thin, weak skin can tear.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 14Nov2012)