Sunday, November 20, 2011

RSV and Preemie Awareness

We trying to get pregnant with our third child, and RSV scares me. I worry about our newborn baby catching RSV. I didn't think too much about it with our first two children. But now, after researching the information about RSV, I am worried about our baby catching it since our son is now attending Pre-K.

Life as expectant parents is joyous and celebratory. In most cases, babies arrive on time, healthy and ready to head home with Mom and Dad. But for the more than half a million American babies born prematurely each year, this often isn’t the case. Many parents of preterm infants are unprepared for the special medical care preemies often require. According to a March of Dimes survey, this is because most expecting parents don’t discuss preterm birth with their doctor during prenatal care, even if they are at high risk. November 17th was  - World Prematurity Day.

Despite recent slight declines in rates of prematurity, 1,400 babies are still born prematurely in the United States every day, and 13 million babies are affected by prematurity around the world. Prematurity, defined as being born before 37 weeks completed gestation, disrupts a baby’s development in the womb, often stunting the growth of some of the body’s most critical organs. At birth, preemies often have difficulty with breathing, feeding and maintaining temperature. Because their immune systems haven’t had time to fully mature, preterm infants are more likely to develop infections, and because their lungs are underdeveloped, they are more susceptible to respiratory problems.

RSV spreads just like a common-cold virus. Taking a few extra precautions around your family and friends can help protect your baby.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your baby, and ask others to do the same.
  • Don't let anyone smoke in your home, or near your baby
  • Wash your baby's toys, clothes, and bedding often
  • Keep your baby away from:
    - Crowds and young children
    - People with colds

Infants can catch RSV because it's just like a common-cold virus. RSV can be spread by sneezing and coughing or by physical contact such as kissing, touching, or shaking hands. RSV can live up to 7 hours on countertops and other surfaces, and spreads very easily in daycare centers and crowded households. No wonder nearly all babies will have had RSV disease by the age of two.

Most babies with RSV suffer from moderate-to-severe cold symptoms. But in some cases, RSV disease can be more serious. Preemies and babies born with certain types of heart disease and those with chronic lung disease are at high risk for severe RSV disease, which could lead to hospitalization due to serious lung infections such as bronchiolitis with or without pneumonia. 

Symptoms of a severe RSV infection:

  • Coughing or wheezing that does not stop
  • Fast breathing or gasping for breath
  • Spread-out nostrils and/or caved-in chest when trying to breathe
  • A bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
  • A fever. (In infants under 3 months of age, a fever greater than 100.4°F rectal is a cause for concern)
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of the symptoms above.

Main factors that can increase your baby's risk for severe RSV disease:
  • Premature birth. Severe lung infections are more common in preemies born at less than 36 weeks.
  • Having chronic lung disease. Babies 24 months of age or younger at the start of RSV season who have been treated for chronic lung disease within the past 6 months are at high risk.
  • Being born with certain types of heart disease. Babies 24 months of age or younger at the start of RSV season who were born with certain types of heart disease are at high risk.

*Check for this information and more. For more about the specialized health needs of preterm infants, visit

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.


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