Did you know that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common seasonal virus, affects two-thirds of all infants by age one and almost 100% of babies by age two? I’ll be honest with ya… I had no clue the statistics were that high until Willow contracted the virus. Alleigh and Kaelyn were rarely sick as young babies, but now I realize that is because they didn’t have much contact with other children when they were wee little since I have been blessed to be a stay at home mom. It’s estimated that 82% of U.S. children, aged six weeks to six years old, spend some amount of time in child care which in turn increases their exposure to contagious germs and viruses. Pair the fact that little ones crave close physical contact and don’t quite grasp the concept of using tissues, coughing in their elbow, and frequent hand washing with an environment that promotes and rewards sharing daycare settings become a prime location for infection spreading. This is especially true for RSV since it can live on surfaces (doorknobs, countertops, toys, bedding, etc.) for several hours and is often spread through touching. The day Willow was diagnosed with RSV her pediatrician told me it was most likely from big sister Alleigh carrying the virus home from prekindergarten.
RSV season typically runs from November through March, so during the winter months parents should be especially careful to watch for signs of RSV. In most children RSV typically causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms, but in some babies it can result in a serious respiratory infection with premature infants being at highest risk since their lungs aren’t fully developed and they have fewer infection-fighting antibodies.
If your child exhibits any of the following symptoms they will require immediate medical care that could potentially lead to hospitalization:
Coughing or wheezing that does not stop
Fast or troubled breathing
Spread-out nostrils and/or a caved-in chest when trying to breathe
Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
Fever (especially if it is over 100.4°F in infants under 3 months of age)
Willow was born right at forty weeks gestation and I am so thankful for that because it definitely helped in her getting over RSV quickly since her lungs were fully developed. She did not have to be hospitalized since I was able to keep her hydrated and we were able to give her breathing treatments at home. Unfortunately that is not the case for many babies – especially preemies. In fact that scary statistics is that RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization and is responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
There is no treatment for RSV which is why preventing the risk of RSV is so critical. All parents should take steps to prevent the spread of the virus, including always washing their hands and child’s hands, and asking others to do the same. It’s also important to remember to keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean and avoid crowds and other sick children during RSV season. A few days ago I mentioned that I use Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes on Alleigh when I pick her up from school to help stop the spread of germs. I also always wear Willow in an infant carrier when taking her out into crowds because I have noticed strangers are much less likely to reach out to touch her if she is attached to me – just another perk of baby wearing!
For more information check out RSVProtection.com.
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.