Thursday, March 22, 2012

Learning About RSV and Protecting Your Baby With Baby Etiquette From MedImmune

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Have you ever heard of RSV?  RSV is a respiratory syncytial virus, which is easily a spreadable virus that almost all children catch at least once by the time they turn 2.  It can be deadly!!!  For most infants, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes an illness like a common cold.  Some babies may be at high risk for severe RSV disease, especially if your baby was born at 28 weeks or earlier.  Even full-term babies get a mild form of RSV diseaseA severe RSV infection may lead to serious breathing problems for your baby.  Working with your doctor, you can develop a protection plan to help your baby!

Have you ever had a premature baby or a baby with RSV?  It's a scary ordeal to go through!  My son was born at 6 1/2 months, he weighted 2 lbs and 13 oz.  The first week in the hospital he lost 7 oz, leaving him only weighing 2 lbs and 6 oz.  My son Cameron was in the hospital for 5 1/2 weeks.  I remember he was on oxygen for about 24 hours.  He would quit breathing up to 25 times a day and start turning blue.  Premature babies forget to breath and so you need to tickle their feet or something, to get them to remember to breath.  I am happy to say, he is a healthy 30 year old.

When I had my baby I never heard of RSV and his lungs were under developed, so I can understand how parents are very protective of their new baby.  It's a scary thing to have a premature baby or a baby with RSV.  I am a big believer in washing your hands very often, so please wash your hands if you will be caring for a infant or toddler!


Help to Prevent RSV Disease with Baby Etiquette

New parents are always excited to show off their new baby to friends and family, but sometimes exposure to loved ones also means exposure to germs.  Young infants are very susceptible to infection in the early weeks of their lives, so contracting something as small as the common cold can present danger.  This is especially true for babies born early, because they have underdeveloped lungs and immature immune systems.

One of the biggest threats to new babies is a very common virus called respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.  This virus is of special concern because it’s extremely common and spreads very easily. RSV can live on surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, countertops, toys, bedding) for several hours and is often spread through touching, hugging and kissing.  Because of this, almost 100% of children contract RSV by their second birthday.  In most older children, RSV runs its course with mild symptoms similar to the cold or flu, and many parents may not even know their child has the virus.  But in very young babies—and especially preemies and those with certain lung and heart diseases—it can lead to a serious respiratory infection.

Because of these dangers, parents of new babies need to be cautious about exposing infants to visitors.  But communicating your concern to family and friends eager to meet your new child is difficult.  It is a struggle to be appreciative of people’s excitement and wary of their contact.

As a guest, it is your responsibility to know how to act and prepare for a visit.  It is important to remember that babies are susceptible to germs, so physical contact can be risky.  Always wash your hands, ask before you touch a baby, and stay away if you have been sick recently.

Please remember that the new parents may not be ready for visitors.  New parents can be very over protective and they have a right to be for the safety of their baby, so don’t be offended if they are not ready for visitors.  There are other ways to show support of families with newborns (e.g., laundry duty or bringing dinner), while respecting the parents’ efforts to keep their baby safe from germs during their first few vulnerable months.

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!

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.

A few facts about RSV that all parents, caregivers and loved ones should know:
  • 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.

An Open Letter to Loved Ones

All newborns are vulnerable during the first few months of life, but certain babies—especially those born prematurely or with certain chronic conditions that make them especially susceptible to infection—need extra protection while their immune systems develop.  As the parent of a high-risk infant, sometimes it’s hard to explain to friends and family why you take certain precautions.  Parents of healthy, full-term babies may not understand and some may perceive your actions to be “extreme” or “paranoid.”  But you know how important it is to prevent your baby from getting sick.

If you haven’t quite found the words to explain why you wish to take extra precautionary measures to keep your baby healthy, the below open letter may be a helpful tool in explaining your situation.  Or, if you know of someone who recently had a high-risk baby and is having difficulty finding acceptance and understanding, share this with them and let them know they aren’t alone.


Dear [Loved One],

I know sometimes people think I go to extreme lengths to protect [Baby], and I understand my methods may seem strange.  I wanted to send this note to you to give you insight on what life is like when you’re perceived as an “overprotective” parent.

[Baby] was born [prematurely or with X condition], which puts [him/her] at an increased risk of developing a serious infection from many common, seemingly harmless, germs and viruses.  For example, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an extremely common virus that all babies contract by their second birthday.  Most infants have the immune system and lung strength to fight off the virus, but in high-risk babies, it can cause a very serious infection.  In fact, serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization.  Note: For more information on the dangers of RSV, you can check out

Because [Baby] is so vulnerable to RSV and other illnesses, it’s important to us to avoid exposing [him/her] to these germs.  Viruses like RSV are highly contagious and can live for hours on objects like countertops, doorknobs and toys.  Frankly, the idea that visitors may unknowingly bring in these dangerous germs is very scary to a new parent!

So I’m asking that you please be patient with me and my precautions to keep [Baby] safe.  Please contact me before dropping by for a visit, and know that while I hate turning you away or asking you not to come over, it’s always for a good reason and never personal.

And when we’re eventually ready for visitors, please remember that prevention is key to keeping [Baby] safe.
  • Please refrain from visiting when you are sick or if you’ve been around someone ill.
  • 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.
  • Let’s wait until [Baby] is strong enough to be introduced to your little one(s), You know I love seeing [him/her], but toddlers and school-aged children are very likely carriers of germs and viruses.
  • Wash your hands immediately when you come into the house, or sanitize during your visit – this is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs.  Wash, wash, wash!
I hope this helps to explain a bit better why I’ve been keeping [Baby] in and, often, visitors out.  I appreciate your understanding and look forward to seeing [Baby] grow stronger and healthier everyday with your help!


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.

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