The impending birth of a baby is a joy unlike any other. You go through a lot of different emotions – You might feel excited or worried. As the due date approaches, many parents worry about if the baby is going to be healthy. You touch base with friends and family regularly. After each doctors visit you answer the questions that’s on everyone’s mind these days: “How’s the baby? How are you feeling?” Naturally friends and family are just as anxious and excited about the impending birth of the baby as you are. However, excitement can quickly turn frightening when the baby arrives early.
November 17th was World Prematurity Day, exactly one month to the day that my niece Madisyn made her appearance in the world. Madisyn was due in January, but the doctor said she would probably come sooner. No one thought sooner would be 29 weeks. At 2lbs 13oz she was just an itty bitty little baby. We prayed and each day I encouraged my brother and sister-in-law to hang in there – reminding them that Madisyn was a fighter. As each day passed and Madisyn began breathing on her own, we worried less and become educated on the challenges of premature babies.
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.
It wasn’t until Madisyn was born that I became aware of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) a common, easily spread virus that nearly every baby contracts by age two. In most full-term babies, symptoms are similar to those of the common cold and parents may not even know their child has the virus. However, because they don’t have the antibodies needed to fight off infection, preterm infants—even those born just a few weeks early—are at increased risk for developing an RSV-related infection, often requiring medical attention or hospitalization. Parents should speak with their pediatrician to find out if their baby is at high risk for developing severe RSV disease, and how they can prevent against RSV this winter.
RSV Quick Facts:
- RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
- RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as merica.
- Certain regions have longer RSV seasons than others, with the season beginning as early as July (e.g., Florida) or ending in April.
- Despite its prevalence, one-third of mothers have never heard of RSV.
Prevention is Key:
There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to 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 may be sick Never let anyone smoke near your baby
- Speak with your child’s doctor if you believe he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available
Be Aware of Symptoms:
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
- Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
- High fever
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty feeding
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.