The minute a woman learns she is growing another life inside of her she becomes intensely focused on that child’s well-being. As moms we all know how fiercely protective we can be about threats we see toward our children. But what about the threats we don’t see?
According to a recent survey on prematurity awareness 3 in 10 mothers of preemies weren’t aware of the possibility of prematurity until they had their first child. And 75% of parents don’t know the definition of prematurity– being born at or before 37 weeks gestation age.
Why is this finding significant?
This finding emphasizes the lack of awareness about premature birth and the medical complications and risks that often accompany premature birth. For instance, did you know that 79 percent of preemie moms have a baby who was hospitalized due to a severe respiratory infection? One such infection that is particularly dangerous to infants and premature babies is RSV. RSV, or respiratory syncytial [sin-sish-uhl] virus, is a contagious viral disease that may infect a person’s lungs and breathing passages.
Severe RSV disease is the number one reason babies less than 12 months old in the United States have to be admitted to hospitals. And premature infants are twice as likely to need to be admitted to the hospital that babies born full term. Premature infants may also have to remain in the hospital twice as long as their full term counterparts.
How do you keep your baby safe?
Prevention is Key
RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Since there’s no
treatment for RSV, parents should take the following preventive steps to help protect their child:
· Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
· Ensure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
· Avoid large crowds and people who are or have been sick
· Never let anyone smoke near your baby
· Speak with your child’s doctor if he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy maybe available
It is also important to Know the Symptoms.
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:
· Severe coughing, wheezing or rapid gasping breaths
· Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
· High fever and extreme fatigue
As I was looking on the RSV Protection website at some of the other signs and symptoms something struck me, and a light bulb came on. Last December, about a week before Christmas both of my boys came down with a terrible “cold” with a high fever (like me, my boys rarely get fevers). They were both wheezing, had a terrible cough with rapid breathing. My older son who has allergy induced asthma seemed to have it worse. The middle part of his chest would cave in with every short breath he took. My husband and I opted not to take the boys to the doctor. I called a nurse, but didn’t know enough about RSV to properly explain the symptoms. She passed it off as a cold.
Thankfully they recovered in a couple weeks. But, remember how I said it was Christmas time when the boys came down with this? About a week after they came down with the illness we decided they had recovered enough to go see family. The had been fever free for a couple days and Big Brother’s wheezing was almost gone. We didn’t know, however, that even when they’re symptom free, kids are still contagious for another 1-3 weeks! We exposed our entire family! If I had realized what was going on I’d never have been so inconsiderate.
You can find a wealth of information at www.rsvprotection.com including a state by state RSV season look up, an interactive RSV risk assessment, and many more facts about RSV.
Join the conversation online: #protectpreemies #rsv
Raising Preemie Awareness on November 17 – World Prematurity Day
Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.