Monday, November 11, 2013

RSV Prevention and Preemies - Prevention is Key

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for MedImmune. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating. #RSVAwareness

The first meeting of my nephew was while he was still being cared for in the hospital. He was so small. This is still my favorite photo from that day.

A newborn baby is so small. I remember being surprised with each of mine. I remember holding up the NB clothing and gushing over the cuteness, but with each birth I was reminded of the beautiful life that was entrusted in my care.

We were the first on either side of the family to have children, so the birth of my nephew was a much anticipated event. He couldn't wait either and was born 7 weeks early.

I was introduced to a whole new definition of tiny and perfect. It was also my first experience with a NICU.

Those first weeks were rough and my husband and I were only able to visit twice in the first few months. My children, at the time 5 and 3, were introduced to their new cousin via Face Time because we didn't want them to share their germs with the preemie.

All of my knowledge of babies came from much larger newborns. Like my son, below, I was still careful to ask visitors to wash their hands and avoided crowds for fear of illness. But the concerns after a premature birth are even more scary.

My youngest was not born prematurely, but I will still be extra cautious this holiday season to keep him healthy.

Along with the regular illnesses, preemies are more susceptible to RSV.

What is RSV?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common seasonal virus, contracted by nearly all children by the age of two, and typically causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms in healthy, full-term babies. Preterm infants, however, are born with undeveloped lungs and immature immune systems that put them at heightened risk for developing severe RSV disease, often requiring hospitalization.
Premature infants and babies with compromised immune systems have fewer virus fighting antibodies. Sadly, there is no treatment for RSV disease once it is contracted. The best medicine is awareness and prevention.

RSV Facts:

  • RSV occurs in epidemics each year, typically from November through March, though it can vary by geography and year-to-year
  • RSV disease is the leading cause of hospitalization for babies during their first year of life in the United States, with approximately 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 400 infant deaths each year
  • RSV disease is responsible for one of every 13 pediatrician visits and one of every 38 trips to the ER in children under the age of five
  • Despite being so common, many parents aren't aware of RSV; in fact, one-third of mothers have never heard of the virus

While I was not familiar with RSV, I know I have to be more careful with my newborn during the colder months to protect against illness. Part of being prepared is knowing what to look for.

RSV Symptoms:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Fever [especially if it is over 100.4°F (rectal) in infants under 3 months of age]

RSV is spread through touching, coughing and sneezing. It can live on the skin surface for hours, so it is important to prevent contact and create awareness with anyone in contact with newborns and especially premature infants.

Prevent RSV by:

  • Washing your hands frequently and asking others to do the same.
  • Keeping toys, clothes, blanket and sheets clean
  • Avoiding crowds and other young children during RSV season
  • Not letting people smoke around an infant
  • Steer clear of people who are sick or who have recently been sick

World Prematurity Day is November 17th. 

check out this helpful RSV Facts Infographic

Please join me in spreading the word about RSV and helping to prevent more premature babies from getting it. Take care with all the babies in your life this holiday season as you travel and visit friends. You can get more information by visiting or follow along with the hashtag #RSVawareness.

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