We welcomed our second son into the world almost nine months ago, a month premature. I was quite scared when words like “underdeveloped lungs” and “steroid shots” were muttered between doctors and nurses observing our son’s progress. He looked like a little chicken to me, frail and teeny, and despite being a mother already, I felt afraid for the first time in my life of holding such a fragile, delicate creature in my hands.
Preemie Awareness Day is November 17th
Over 13 millions babies are born early each year, and premature birth is the leading cause of neonatal death. Premature babies are much more susceptible to infections and illnesses than their full term counterparts, and as such require even more carefule handling by those around them. One of the most serious illnesses a premature baby can get is RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), a nasty yet common virus that is particularly threatening to new babies.
People don’t like to be asked to wash their hands when visiting, or to stay away if they’ve recently been sick, but because being cautious can be lifesaving, parents of premature babies need to stress hygiene and a strict quarantine around their precious little treasures.
RSV spreads easily and can live on surfaces like doorknobs, countertops, even bedding. It’s often spread through touching, hugging and kissing. Almost 100% of children contract RSV by their second birthday, and in toddlers, RSV usually manifests itself with mild flu-like symptoms. However, in very young babies, RSV can lead to a serious respiratory infection or even death.
Protect Your Newborn
For your baby’s safety, ask visitors to:
- Refrain from visiting when they are sick or if they’ve been around someone ill
- Make sure clothes are clean and smoke-free (smoke is dangerous to underdeveloped lungs)
- Keep other babies and toddlers at home
- Wash hands immediately upon entering home and as needed during visit
There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child. Symptoms of serious RSV infection include persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding.
To learn more about RSV and how to protect your baby, visit RSVProtection.com.