My nine year old son gave us quite a scare when he was six months old. He got sick and, fairly quickly, it started to affect his breathing so we immediately brought him to the emergency room. After treating him with asthma medications, he was sent home with instructions to give him treatments on the nebulizer daily to ease his breathing. While he had been in the hospital, they took a swab culture of the mucus in his nose and told us they would contact us in a few days with the results.
A couple of days later, our Pediatrician called us and he told us that our son had tested positive for RSV. I had heard this term before on television and knew it was a respiratory disease that was extremely dangerous to premature babies. Little did I know that it could be dangerous to all babies under a year old and that it could potentially be lethal to preemies. We were lucky because our boy was old enough and strong enough to recover from it quickly.
Unfortunately, premature babies who contract RSV are not usually as fortunate as our son was. Due to the fact that premature babies are born with underdeveloped lungs and immune systems, they are more likely to develop infections and are more vulnerable to developing respiratory problems. Prematurity impairs a baby’s development in the womb and stunts the growth of the body’s most critical organs. These babies are born with an increased risk of suffering medical complications at birth and face weeks or even months in NICU.
On November 17th, which is World Prematurity Day, we hope to educate all expecting parents about the risks and dangers of giving birth to babies who are pre-term. Parents of premature babies often experience feelings of isolation, frustration, and lack of knowledge. This is especially true in the Hispanic community where the rate of preterm births in the U.S. is 11.66 percent.
In fact, data indicates that infants within U.S. Hispanic communities are at an increased risk for contracting severe RSV disease. Parents of preemies should know about respiratory syncytial virus or RSV. It is a respiratory infection that mimics the symptoms of the common cold that can be particularly severe for babies born prematurely due to the fact that their lungs are underdeveloped and they don’t have the antibodies necessary for fighting off infection.
Two-thirds of U.S. Hispanic mothers have never heard of RSV, and one in five U.S. Hispanic moms only becomes aware of RSV once their child has contracted the virus. Prevention is key as RSV is extremely contagious and can be easily spread through touching, sneezing, and coughing. There is no treatment for RSV and it is important that parents take preventive steps to protect their children:
- 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 may be available
It is important that you immediately contact your child’s pediatrician if you suspect that your child has RSV and if he/she is exhibiting such symptoms as severe coughing, wheezing, or quick gasping breaths. Blue color on the lips, mouth, and under the fingernails can be signs that your child is not getting enough oxygen and should be taken very seriously. Also, if your child is exhibiting a high fever and is fatigued or lethargic, these could be signs of a more serious condition.
To learn more about RSV, visit the RSV Protection Site and for more information about the special needs of premature or preterm babies, visit PreemieVoices whose goal is to give premature babies a voice.
Disclosure: This compensated post was written as part of a blogging program through Latina Bloggers Connect. Any statements made in this post are the author’s honest opinions. I only recommend products or services I use personally and I believe will be “family friendly.” I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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