Several years later, and a third baby later I watched as a friend dealt with the very real implications of having a premature baby, even well after that first year of her life she struggles every cold season with her daughter contracting RSV. It’s heartbreaking to hear of her daughter being sick and suffering. But it’s unimaginable to me what she must feel as a mother as they’ve had to repeated hospital stays each year. I have been unbelievably lucky with my boys and still haven’t even had our first trip tot he ER (knocking on wood! there was that one time that I probably should have taken Timmy in for a stitch or two but the motto in our house is now “chicks dig scars” and there was the one time our pediatricians office had to council my husband in how to get a piece of candy dislodged from my 2 year old’s nose without a trip to the hospital but I’m going astray here). As I was saying, I can’t imagine watching my kids hooked up to IVs and getting poked and proded around the clock at a hospital.
So it’s with this in mind that I encourage you, read the information below. Be informed. I considered myself a well read, mature mom when I had my first son at 25 years old but there was so much I didn’t know. And maybe you aren’t having any more babies and this information seems irrelevant, but as a parent education is always important. You being informed, may help you make better decisions that effect others in your life you care about. Consider the choices you make about where you take your own little ones while they are sick
Did you know that worldwide, 13 million babies are born early every year, including more than half a
million in the United States? Despite these staggering numbers, many parents still aren’t aware of
prematurity—the leading cause of neonatal death.
In fact, a recent survey on prematurity awareness found that 3 in 10 mothers of preemies weren’t aware of the possibility of prematurity until they had their first child. And 75% of parents don’t know the definition of prematurity– being born at or before 37 weeks gestation age. Given this low awareness, it is clear many parents don’t fully understand the increased risks that come with premature birth – and the specialized health care that preemies often require.
Prematurity disrupts a baby’s development in the womb, often stunting the growth of some of the body’s most critical organs. These babies are at an increased risk of serious medical complications and regularly face weeks or even months in the NICU. This often contributes to mothers feeling powerless, anxious and isolated.
Because their immune systems and lungs aren’t fully developed, preemies are more likely to develop
infections and are more susceptible to respiratory problems. In fact, 79 percent of preemie moms have a baby who was hospitalized due to a severe respiratory infection. One virus in particular that parents of preemies should know about is respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV. RSV is contracted by nearly all children by the age of two, often causing relatively minor symptoms that mimic the common cold. However, preemies are most at risk for developing much more serious symptoms, including a serious respiratory infection (severe RSV disease) from the virus, because their lungs are underdeveloped and they don’t have the antibodies needed to fight off infection.
RSV Quick Facts
- RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, and severe RSV disease causes up to 10 times as many infant deaths each year as the flu.
- RSV is most prevalent during the winter months. The CDC has defined the “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
- In addition to prematurity, common risk factors include low birth weight, certain lung or heart diseases, a family history of asthma and frequent contact with other children.
Prevention is Key
RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Since there’s no
treatment for RSV, parents should take the following preventive steps to help protect their child:
- Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
- Ensure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
- Avoid large crowds and people who are or have been sick
- Never let anyone smoke near your baby
- Speak with your child’s doctor if he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available
Know the Symptoms
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:
- Severe coughing, wheezing or rapid gasping breaths
- Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
- High fever and extreme fatigue
To learn more about RSV, visit www.rsvprotection.com and for more about the specialized health needs of
preterm infants, visit www.preemievoices.com. Join the conversation online: #protectpreemies #rsv
I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.