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.
If you were to look at my four year old today, you’d never know his secret. As an enormous preschooler full of piss and vinegar, he’s a head taller and 5 pounds taller than the rest of the kids in his pre-kindergarten class. Any family member or friend who hasn’t seen him for more than a few weeks usually comments on how huge he is. I have to wrestle him to the floor to brush his teeth and I can barely carry him into the house when he falls asleep in the car. His secret? He was once a premature infant that I could hold in one hand.
My premie baby was 8 weeks early after a difficult pregnancy and scary delivery. We spent the last couple months of my pregnancy under careful watch at the university hospital and more weeks there in the NICU after he was born and he wasn’t even 4 pounds when we brought him home. The nurses helped me roll baby blankets up and pad around him to help him fit in his car seat just so we could take him home.
Little did I know that just having that “premie” baby was the beginning of my worries. As fall and cold and flu season came around, I learned about a serious illness that puts premature infants at serious risk.
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. RSV infection is more likely to root in premature lungs where developing airways are narrowed and especially fragile and preterm babies carry fewer virus-fighting antibodies since their immune systems aren’t quite as developed at birth.
In November to help educate parents about prematurity and the risks of RSV, I’ve been asked along with some other bloggers to share my story prior to November 17th with is World Prematurity Day to help raise awareness. Since prematurity disrupts a baby’s development in the womb and often stunts the growth of their most critical organs, preemies are susceptible to a variety of illnesses and infections, especially during the winter months.
- RSV occurs in epidemics each year, typically from November through March, though it can vary by geography and year-toyear
- 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 theage 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
Learn the Symptoms of Severe RSV Disease:
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:
- 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]
How Can I Help Protect My Baby From RSV?
RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Additionally, the virus can live on the skin
and surfaces for hours. There is no treatment for RSV disease once it’s contracted, so prevention is critical. To help minimize the
spread of RSV disease, all parents should:
- Wash their hands and ask others to do the same
- Keep toys, clothes, blanket and sheets clean
- Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season
- Never let anyone smoke around your baby
- Steer clear of people who are sick or who have recently been sick
While he had a rough start, today my little guy is huge, happy and healthy. Premies grow big and strong with lots of love and care, just keep an extra eye on them during RSV season to keep them healthy. To learn more about RSV and to prevent RSV illness in your premie visit RSVProtection.com.