Monday, November 17th is World Prematurity Dayand the beginning of RSV season. Tomorrow is a day that raises awareness of premature births and it’s a great time to educate the public of RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).
This day of awareness is also close to my heart because I am a proud Preemie Mommy, I gave birth to a baby girl 7 years ago and she was born at 30 weeks, just barely weighing 3lbs. I suffered from preeclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure) and I never had the full experience of carrying a baby to full term.
At 28 1/2 weeks pregnant I exhibited signs of an elevated blood pressure and I was quickly whisked away to the hospital for 24 hour observation. By the next day I was told I was not going home but instead I would be staying in the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy – 10 weeks on bed rest. Of course I was in a panic worrying about my baby inside me, my 4 year old son and of course my husband. I could not believe this was happening again and so soon. I needed to do everything in my power to keep her inside me.
With preeclampsia an expectant mother’s symptoms could get worse quickly and for me it did. My daughter came into this world only one week after I was admitted. We never made it to full term. My heart ached with worry knowing what might be ahead for her and would she be strong enough to get through it all. She spent 41 days in the ICN (Intensive Care Neonatal unit) until she was ready to come home. In those 41 days I watched how wires and tubes monitored her every move and breath. Machines constantly beeped and nurses lovingly cared for my baby. My husband and I spent endless days and nights holding her, singing to her, feeding her and telling her that she would be home soon.
When the day finally arrived for her to go home I suddenly realized her journey was not over yet. We were informed that being a preemie brought on other challenges in the first 2 years of her life and we needed to be extremely cautious with her. Her immune system and lungs were not as strong as a full term baby and it could be compromised from all the germs she could be exposed to. For the first 2 years of her life from November to March my daughter received RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) shots. These shots were so neccessary to have and protect my preemie from the potential risk of RSV. RSV does not only affect preemies but also full term babies can be exposed. Educate yourself and learn everything there is to know about RSV.
What is RSV?
RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) 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.
RSV occurs in epidemics each year, typically from November through March, though it can vary by geography and year-to-year.
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 200 infant deaths each year.
Despite being so common, many parents aren’t aware of RSV; in fact, one-third of mothers have never heard of the virus.
Why Are Preemies At Higher Risk for RSV?
While every baby is at risk of contracting RSV, babies born prematurely are at increased risk for developing severe RSV disease. In fact, preterm infants are twice as likely as full-term infants to be admitted to the hospital for RSV-related symptoms.
What Are 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
Speak to your child’s pediatrician to determine if your baby is at high risk for RSV disease, and if so, what additional steps may be recommended. For more information about RSV and prevention, visit www.RSVprotection.com.
Wear Purple in Support of World Prematurity Day! and share with your family and friends how you can prevent a child from RSV.
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