I am so blessed to have gone through 7 pregnancies and have 6 healthy children, with another one on the way. But, getting them to a safe delivery date wasn’t always easy. I have had my share of preterm labor, bedrest, and other difficult pregnancy experiences. I remember several times as I was lying in a hospital bed while doctors tried everything in their power to keep labor from progressing anymore before my baby was strong enough to be born. And that’s why this campaign is so important to me. I believe every mom-to-be should be aware of the dangers associated with babies born before 37 weeks.
It’s easy to get to the third trimester and joke that you are ready to be done pregnant. But, all joking aside, preemies are prone to infections from viruses like the common cold, the flu, and RSV, and the longer you can keep that baby inside you, the better it will be for him or her.
When I worked in day care, I had the joy of working in the infant room. I adored each of those babies, and because I spent so much time with them, we developed a real bond. And then one day, Jack didn’t come in to the center. And then another day passed, and still no Jack. On day 3, his mom finally called and told us that Jack was in the hospital in critical condition with something called RSV. You see, Jack was a preemie, and the disease was just too strong for his little body to fight.
At the time, I had no idea what RSV was, or how harmful it could be to infants. I now know that RSV (or Respiratory Syncytial Virus) typically shows up as minor symptoms in babies, but in high-risk infants, it can quickly develop into a serious infection that can be very hard for them to fight.
Jack ended up spending nearly 3 weeks in the hospital, just trying to survive having RSV. When he was finally released from the hospital, it took several months before he was declared “healthy” again. It broke my heart watching him struggle every day, and I was so thankful when he finally got past it. Ever since that experience with Jack, I have tried to be very aware of symptoms in my own children.
November 17th was World Prematurity Day. The day is set aside to raise awareness about prematurity and all of the risks associated with pre-term birth. I want to take a moment and share some facts about RSV with you:
RSV Quick Facts
- RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, and severe RSV disease causes up to 10 times as many infant deaths each year as the flu.
- RSV is most prevalent during the winter months. The CDC has defined the “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
- In addition to prematurity, common risk factors include low birth weight, certain lung or heart diseases, a family history of asthma and frequent contact with other children.
Prevention is Key
RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Since there’s no treatment for RSV, parents should 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 are or have been sick
- Never let anyone smoke near your baby
- Speak with your child’s doctor if he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available
Know the Symptoms
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:
- Severe coughing, wheezing or rapid gasping breaths
- Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
- High fever and extreme fatigue
Because I have a baby due in February, you can bet I will be taking extra precautions to ensure her safety during the remainder of RSV season. I hope that those of you who have recently had babies – or are expecting soon – will also take a few minutes to educate yourself about RSV and the potential risks associated with pre-term birth.
Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.