Premature Awareness Day and RSV Prevention

November 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Mom Central, Product Reviews

More than half a million American babies are born prematurely each year.  When I was pregnant with the twins, I was aware of the increased risk of complications of carrying multiples.  At 19 weeks into my pregnancy, a relatively uneventful pregnancy became a scary one.  I was placed on bed rest and hospitalized at 25 weeks for premature labor.  I was able to maintain the pregnancy till about 34.5 weeks, when my water broke and the boys were born nearly six weeks early.

Being a new parent is scary enough, but you never even think of or are prepared for the special medical care that your babies may require if they come early.  Even though the boys were a healthy 5lbs each, they still spent close to three weeks in the NICU with breathing issues and learning how to eat, swallow and breathe at the same time, as well as, maintain their body temperatures.  According, to a March of Dimes survey,  most expecting parents don’t discuss preterm birth with their doctor during prenatal care, even if they are at high risk and even though I went to a high risk doctor, we didn’t particularly discuss the possibilities in depth.

November 17th is World Prematurity Day and a great way to help spread awareness to existing parents, new parents and soon to be. Nearly every baby contracts respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) by age two. In most full-term babies, symptoms are similar to those of the common cold and parents may not even know their child has the virus. However, because they don’t have the antibodies needed to fight off infection, preterm infants—even those born just a few weeks early—are at increased risk for developing an RSV-related infection, often requiring medical attention or hospitalization.  One of my sons had a great deal of difficulty with RSV and today he has to have breathing treatments and he has a lot of trouble when he gets a respiratory illness.

RSV Quick Facts:

  • RSV 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.
  • Certain regions have longer RSV seasons than others, with the season beginning as early as July (e.g., Florida) or ending in April.
  • Despite its prevalence, one-third of mothers have never heard of RSV.

Prevention is Key:
There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to 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 may be sick
• Never let anyone smoke near your baby
• Speak with your child’s doctor if you believe he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available

Be Aware of Symptoms:
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:
• Persistent coughing or wheezing
• Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
• Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
• High fever
• Extreme fatigue
• Difficulty feeding

I think that this is so important, especially for new parents. Many doctors may not share these possibilities to avoid stressing parents out  but I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and keeping parents informed can go a long way in preventing RSV. I know how scary breathing issues can be and even though you don’t want to face the possibilities of having a premature infant or a sick child, it is easier to face if you know something about it before hand. The RSV Protection site is a great resource for you or someone who is expecting.  We can’t control if a baby is coming early in most cases but we can give them a leg up by knowing what to expect.

 

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”