Do you know about RSV? If you’re a soon-to be parent, new parent or family member/friend of a family with a new baby, it is important to learn about. RSV is a common virus that all babies usually contract by their second birthday. It’s not typically serious for most babies, but for those born prematurely or with health issues, it can be deadly because of weakened immune systems and underdeveloped lungs.
- Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
- Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
- RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
- There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child (e.g., wash hands, toys, bedding frequently; avoid crowds and cigarette smoke).
- Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV, and discuss preventive measures.
- Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.
I’ll admit, when my son was born in 2009, I did not know much about RSV. Fortunately, he was born 2 weeks late, making him not high risk. Still, I asked people to use hand sanitizer and wash their hands before touching or holding the baby – and we really limited the amount of visitors we had in the first few weeks.
Now, being pregnant with twins, I’m aware of the fact that they come with both a higher risk of premature delivery and therefore a possible high risk for RSV if born before 36 weeks gestation or if they have compromised immune systems for some other reason.
Understanding RSV is the best way you can prepare and help prevent it. Still it can be challenging to convey your wishes to friends or relatives, who might think you’re overreacting or being paranoid when you insist on certain precautions or if you limit visits to newborns, particularly high-risk babies like preemies.
Below are some tips that anyone who plans on visiting a newborn should know. As a parent, there is certainly nothing wrong with sharing some of these tips in a respectful way so that you can help protect your baby’s health.
A few tips to remember when a loved one has a new baby:
- Call before you visit. New parents need time to set up a routine and bond. By giving them time to do so before you visit, you are respecting the new family.
- Postpone a visit if you feel that you may be getting sick, have recently been ill or exposed to illness.
- Remember that parents know best. If you feel they are being overprotective or overly cautious, just consider that only they know what’s best for the health of their new son or daughter.
- Offer to do something to ease their responsibilities as they spend time as a family, such as laundry, cooking or dishes. Sleep-deprived moms and dads will appreciate your help!
- Please make sure your clothes are clean and you haven’t smoked or been around smokers recently. Smoke can be very dangerous for underdeveloped lungs.
If you do schedule a visit with a new baby:
- Wash your hands frequently—upon entering the home and especially prior to holding the baby. Parents, and the new baby, will appreciate it.
- Leave toddlers at home, especially during the winter months. Young children, especially if they attend day care or preschool, often carry germs and viruses, like RSV, that are easily spread.
For more information on RSV, and baby etiquette, visit the RSV Protection website.
Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.