This is part of a sponsored collaboration with MedImmune and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own.
I would like you to join me In educating all parents of the increased risks that often come with premature birth, particularly around one seasonal virus that poses a threat to infants – Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). As a pregnant women myself, 36 weeks this week to be exact, it’s important that I share how critical these last couple of weeks are for your unborn child,
Today marked World Prematurity Day is (November 17th).
Learn How to Keep Your Preemie Healthy
Every parent wants to keep their newborn happy and healthy when they return home from the hospital, but parents of premature babies may face a greater challenge protecting their children. As preterm birth can come with complications, many preemies require special medical attention, particularly during the winter months when there is an increase in contagious seasonal illnesses.
Each year worldwide, 13 million babies are born prematurely. Despite these overwhelming numbers, many parents are unaware of the risks of premature birth — the leading cause of neonatal death. In fact, 75 percent of parents don’t know the definition of prematurity (birth at or before 37 weeks gestation), and during prenatal care, most pregnant women don’t ask their healthcare provider about the risk of delivering prematurely and the potential consequences of preterm birth for their child.
Because of their immature lungs and fragile immune systems, preemies often have specialized health needs. Preterm infants do not receive the full amount of infection-fighting antibodies that are transferred in utero, leaving many susceptible to a variety of illnesses and infections, especially during the winter months.
What is RSV?
• 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.
• 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.