I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for MedImmune. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. When I had my twins two years ago, I was very aware of the risk of RSV. As anticipated, our babies came early, making them even more susceptible to this common seasonal illness – however, to premature babies, this illness is serious. It causes mild to moderate symptoms in full-term, healthy babies, but can be dangerous and life-threatening to babies born prematurily.
In fact, 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 this – one third of mothers do not even know about RSV – and that’s troubling.
I was one of those mothers when my first was born 5 years ago. I had never heard of the virus and only learned about it when a co-worker’s child passed away from the illness. It was the worst possible way to learn about the virus and left me frightened for my then 3 month old son. Fortunately, when I knew my twins would most likely arrive early I knew about this virus and could take appropriate precautions (which can you read about below). November 17th is World Prematurity Day, so learning about the link between premature infants and RSV is especially important to share!
What is RSV and why are preemies at-risk?
RSV is a common seasonal virus that occurs in epidemics from November-March, though this can vary. While every baby is at risk for contracting RSV, those born prematurly are more at risk of developing more severe symptoms, which include:
- 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)
Since RSV can mimic a cold, it is important to watch children extremely closely for early signs of these more severe symptoms. How can you protect your child? RSV is extremely contagious. It is easily spread through touching, sneezing and coughing. The virus itself can also live on the skin and surfaces for hours. Once it is contracted, there is no treatment for RSV, so prevention is key. Here are some things you can do, as a parent, to help minimize the spread of RSV: • Wash 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 Help inform other parents and protect other children by sharing this infographic below. If you want to learn more about RSV and get more facts, visit www.RSVprotection.com