I will never forget the day we got the call from my sister-in-law, Jill. She was in the hospital and had just had her baby. How could that be? She was only 24 weeks pregnant? The terror in her voice was palpable. My husband and I felt helpless. We were in Cleveland, Ohio, where my husband was going through his own health scare with cancer and my sister-in-law was thousands of miles away in Arizona. To top it off, it was right around the holidays. Little John weighed 1 pound 8 ounces, when he was born, and was 12 inches long. He spent 110 days in the NICU before coming home on March 20, 2006. John is a true miracle and an inspiration to all that meet him! You can read more about his amazing story here (grab the tissue!)
More than half a million American babies are born prematurely each year. That’s a staggering 1,400 babies born prematurely in the United States every day. Because premature babies immune systems haven’t had time to fully mature, preterm infants are more likely to develop infections. Preemies have underdeveloped lungs, so they are more susceptible to respiratory problems.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious virus which is quite prevalent during the winter months. It is transmitted primarily by hand-to-nose, hand-to-mouth, and hand-to-eye contact. The severity of the symptoms vary depending upon the age of the child and whether he has any chronic medical problems. RSV can be particularly serious in infants born prematurely and children under the age of two suffering from chronic lung conditions.
For otherwise healthy children, RSV usually amounts to little more than a cold. However, for preemies and other at-risk infants, the health consequences can be much more serious. In the U.S., approximately 125,000 children are hospitalized each year with serious RSV disease and, sadly, some of these children die.
To help protect your baby from RSV, there are simple steps that parents and caregivers can take:
Have family members and caregivers wash their hands with warm water and soap before touching the baby
Avoid being around the baby if you have a cold or fever
Avoid exposing the baby to other children with cold symptoms
Keep the baby away from crowded places
Never smoke around the baby
Talk to your baby’s pediatrician about RSV risks and prevention
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
- Not eating well
To learn more about RSV please visit www.rsvprotection.com.
As we prepare to celebrate my nephew John’s sixth birthday, I can’t help but think of all the other babies born too soon. November 17th is World Prematurity Day, an important day designed to help raise public awareness about the problem of global prematurity, which affects more than 13 million babies worldwide.
I wrote this post 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.