People are coughing everywhere I go this week. It is that time of year again when seasonal viruses are hitting everyone, at every age. Prevention with good hygiene is key for most seasonal viruses, including RSV which affects nearly 100% of children by the age of 2.
November through March is when RSV is most common, landing 125,000 babies in the hospital and sadly 200 infant deaths per year. RSV is serious, not just a seasonal virus, it is a respiratory syncytial [sin-sish-uhl] contagious viral disease that may infect a person’s lungs and breathing passages.I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for MedImmune. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Today is World Prematurity Day. It is the perfect time to talk about RSV because preemies are 2X as likely to be admitted to the hospital for RSV related symptoms.
With so many seasonal viruses going around, it can be confusing recognizing if your child has RSV and when to take them to your pediatrician. I always err on the side of safety. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken my kids to their pediatrician for ‘nothing’ but I can tell you there have been plenty of times that I was so glad I took them to the doctor, like when we caught my son’s diagnose of Type 1 Diabetes before anything serious happened to him (fainting, seizures, coma) or when both my kids had RSV as babies.
Both my kids were born early, between 2-1/2 and 3-1/2 weeks early. They were more likely to have more severe symptoms and did, thankfully neither landed in the hospital.
Symptoms of Severe RSV Disease:
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
- Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
- Fever (especially over 100.4°F [rectal] for infants under 3 months of age)
If your baby has one or more symptoms, call your pediatrician immediately. If in doubt, call your pediatrician.
How to Prevent RSV
RSV is a seasonal virus that is highly contagious and can be caught through touching, sneezing, and coughing. RSV can live on surfaces and skin for hours. Since there is no treatment for RSV, the only way to protect your baby is to prevent RSV.
- Wash, wash, wash your hands, your baby’s hands, and require those watching and handling your baby to wash their hands
- Wash toys, clothing, blankets, and bedding often
- Avoid crowds and other young kids who could be carrying RSV November – March as much as possible
- Don’t smoke or let anyone else smoke around your baby
- Stay away from sick people or those that have recently been sick.
Don’t ever feel wrong about asking people to wash their hands before holding your baby or staying away from those that were recently sick. Your #1 job is to protect and care for your child.
I learned this early on. I remember hearing family members snicker when I required them to wash their hands every time they held my babies. I also remember people asking when we would be bringing our babies to church – we waited 6-8 weeks after birth and then we left our babies in their car seats while in crowds to avoid everyone wanting to hold our babies. We weren’t being stingy, we were protecting them from catching viruses like RSV.
We’ve even missed out on holiday gatherings because someone was going to be there at was sick OR because we were recently not well and didn’t want to get their babies sick. It stinks to miss out on fun outings, especially holidays, but it isn’t worth it.
My daughter was 1 in this picture, you’d never know she was premature. Just one month later is when she got RSV…
My daughter was born 3 weeks and 5 days early, just barely technically premature. However, we can tell even 7 years later that she was premature as her lungs weren’t fully developed. She wheezes every time she gets sick.
Wheezing was the first symptom that I noticed when my kids got RSV and a really noticeable symptom that cant’ be ignored. Be familiar with the symptoms above. If your baby is having difficulty breathing, wheezing, a high fever, or bluish in color, they may have RSV. Don’t delay in seeking treatment.
Please spread the word on RSV this Winter, especially to friends and family that have a premature baby. You could very well save their life.