One thing I can tell you is my kids barely went “out” the first 3 months of their lives. Call us “old school” or “overprotective” or whatever you like but we didn’t want to put our kids in danger of catching God’s knows what! If I needed something desperately from the mall, my hubby stayed home with the baby or I ordered it on-line. To my husband, and I nothing is more important than the well being of our kids and that is why I want to take a moment to teach you the ABCs of RSV and how you can protect your children from getting a potentially severe seasonal illness.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common and highly contagious virus contracted by nearly 100 percent of babies by their second birthday. Although RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization among infants, many parents are unaware of the dangers that RSV presents to their children. Doctors say it’s typical to see a spike in RSV cases in the winter, as RSV season runs from November – March. In certain cases, RSV has the potential to develop into a serious illness, and thus it is essential that all parents know the ABCs of RSV to protect their children through the rest of RSV season.
Although RSV most often causes mild, cold or flu-like symptoms, in some babies it can develop into something much more serious—especially in preterm infants who have underdeveloped lungs and immature immune systems. RSV can also disproportionately affect multicultural infants, as data indicates infants from African-American and Hispanic communities are at increased risk to develop severe RSV disease. Each year in the United States, half a million babies are born premature, and amongst Hispanics, the preterm birth rate has grown six percent over the last decade. Currently, one in eight Hispanic babies is born premature and it is likely that high prematurity rates are a reason for increased risk of RSV within Hispanic communities.
All parents—especially those with babies at increased risk for contracting RSV, such as preemies--must understand key facts about RSV to protect their children. Learning the ABCs of RSV is a simple way to keep your family healthy during RSV season.
A is for Awareness:
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 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 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 the age 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
B is for Babies:
- Premature babies—defined as those born before 37 weeks gestation—are most at risk for developing severe RSV disease because they have underdeveloped lungs and fewer antibodies to fight the virus than babies born full term.
C is for Contagious:
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. Learn the symptoms of severe RSV disease and 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]
- 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