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What is RSV?
In honor of World Prematurity Day, November 17th, here is some info about RSV and what you can do to protect your babies.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus, more commonly known as RSV, is a common seasonal virus. Most kids contract RSV by the time they are two. In full-term healthy babies, it typically causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms. But, what happens with premature babies? Preemies face many serious troubles from just being born early. RSV infection is more likely to affect premature lungs where their smaller, underdeveloped airways are especially fragile. Also, because they are preemies, their immune systems aren’t strong and don’t have as many antibodies that are passed from mom to baby in the womb. This is important due to the fact that they can’t fight off infections like a baby born at a normal gestational age, especially during the winter months.
Did you know?
- Each year worldwide, 13 million babies are born prematurely, and more than one million preemies have died just this year from the serious health challenges they face.
- The current rate of prematurity in the United States is 12.2 percent—one of the highest rates of preterm birth in the world. Even more alarming is that the rates have risen by 36 percent over the last 25 years.
- RSV occurs in epidemics each year, typically from November through March, though it can vary by geography and year-to-year.
- 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 400 infant deaths each year.
- RSV disease is responsible for one of every 13 pediatrician visits and one of every 38 trips to the ER in children under the age of five.
Protect Against RSV
RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. And the virus can even live on the skin
and surfaces for hours. There is no treatment for RSV disease once it’s contracted, so prevention is key! 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
What To Look For
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:
- 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]
And remember, when in doubt, always play it safe! If you are unsure, call the doctor’s office and ask to speak to the doctor or a nurse. If the office is closed, contact the doctor on call. Never feel weird or embarrassed. That’s what they’re there for!
Find out more about RSV and what you can do to protect your children at RSVprotection.com and check out this infographic below.