Many people I know have had their lives touched by RSV. What a lot of people don’t realize is that RSV is more than just 3 letters, an abbreviation, RSV is a serious illness that can really affect the life of a baby/child. All too often you hear of mothers trying to convince their doctors that they can no longer endure the strains of pregnancy. Many times babies are induced simply to ease the mother. This happens too often and today we really want to make you aware of all of the risks associated with a premature birth. (Please note that at times it is necessary for a baby to come early when the mother or baby’s life is in jeopardy, however there are many times when a doctor wants to go on vacation or a mother just doesn’t want to be pregnant any longer, and these are not strong reasons to induce a baby early.)
Did you know that nearly 13 million babies are born early every year? There was a recent study done on prematurity awareness. You would be surprised how many parents really aren’t aware of prematurity and how it can affect their child. In fact, 3 in 10 mother’s were not aware of the fact of prematurity until after they had already given birth to their child. Now this next number was a real shocker for me, as it is quite high, 75% of parents don’t know the definition of prematurity.
Prematurity: Being born at or before 37 weeks gestation age.
Did you know that prematurity disrupts baby’s growth in the womb? It can often stunt the growth of the baby’s organs. Babies born prematurely are at a risk of increased medical complications and can face weeks or even months in the NICU.
November 17 has been marked as World Prematurity Day. This day will be used to inform parents of the risks of prematurity.
Preemies are more likely to develop infections and are more susceptible to respiratory problems because their immune systems are not fully developed. The numbers are staggeringly high and support this notion. As a matter of fact, 79% of mothers with a preemie baby have had their baby hospitalized due to a respiratory infection. RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, is the leading cause of infant hospitalization. Nearly all children will have had RSV by the age of 2, however a healthy child will only show minor symptoms that mimic a cold, while a preemie has underdeveloped lungs and they do not have the antibodies needed to fight off the infection, therefore leaving their bodies much more susceptible to respiratory infection and serious problems.
Did you know that severe RSV causes up to 10 times as many deaths each year in infants as the flu? In fact, for most parts of North America, the CDC has defined “RSV Season” as beginning in November and lasting through March. While RSV is very serious, it is not the only complication you need to worry about when you deliver your baby before his/her due date. Other things to take into consideration are low birth weight, certain lung or heart diseases, family history of asthma and frequent contact with other children.
RSV is very contagious. You should definitely take it seriously as it can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. There is no treatment for RSV, therefore parents must take extra precautions to keep this virus away from their children.
Some of the things you can do to prevent RSV are…
- Wash hands, toys, bedding and play areas often
- Be sure that anyone in your family or that may come into contact with your baby wash hands often and use hand sanitizer.
- Try to avoid large crowds and people who are or have been sick
- NEVER let anyone smoke near your baby
- You can speak with your doctor if your baby may be at high risk for RSV. Preventative measures can sometimes be taken.
It is important to know the symptoms of RSV. If your child exhibits one ore more of these symptoms it is good to know what you are looking for so that you can contact your pediatrician right away.
Symptoms of RSV…
- Severe Coughing, wheezing or rapid gasping breaths
- Blue color on the lips, mouth or under the fingernails
- High fever and extreme fatigue
Please visit the RSV Protection site to learn more about RSV and how it can affect your child.