I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting #MC for MedImmune. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.
The current rate of prematurity in the US is 12.2 percent – one of the highest pre-term birth rates in the entire world. Despite these numbers, many parents are still not aware of the risks to their premature infants, in fact, 75% of parents do not know the definition of prematurity, which is birth at or before 37 weeks. It doesn’t seem to be something that is asked about or discussed during prenatal care. I delivered my twins at 37 weeks, an no one discussed these risks with me – and I didn’t know to ask. While we knew they couldn’t get sick, as they were more susceptible, we weren’t given specific information as to what to look for. This is not acceptable, especially with 400 infant deaths from RSV a year.
November is the perfect time to make strides at educating parents about the risks of premature birth since November 17th is World Prematurity Day. Prematurity disrupts the baby’s development in the womb and stunts the growth of critical organs – so preemies are susceptible to a variety of illnesses and infections. As we head into the winter months, one such risk to educate parents about is Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) .
This is a common seasonal virus, contracted by nearly all children by the age of two. It usually causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms in healthy, full-term babies. In premature babies, with underdeveoped lungs, and low counts of virus fighting antibodies, this virus can cause severe symptoms and require hospitalization.
Here are the symptoms to watch out for in your baby:
• 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
So how can you protect your baby?
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