Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Every year, as we head into the fall, parents being gearing up for the upcoming cold and flu season.  Parents of preemies and other babies with chronic diseases have another virus they need to be concerned about: RSV.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is an infection that can cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia in very young infants, particularly those under the age of 1.  Preemies, babies under the age of 2 who have congenital heart disease or chronic lung disease, and children with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk for severe illness.  As a result, it’s important to protect your preemie as much as possible so they do not become infected with RSV.

RSV is transmitted through similar ways as a cold.  When someone coughs or sneezes, airborne droplets can infect someone who inhales them or comes in direct contact with them another way, via the eyes, nose, or mouth.  You can also become infected with the virus through indirect contact with a contaminated surface, such as a doorknob, and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hand.

Preventative measures are similar to measures used to avoid infection from colds and influenza.  Good hand hygiene should be practiced: wash thoroughly for a minimum of 15-20 seconds with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers before handling your preemie, especially after blowing your nose or coughing into your hands.  Avoid those who are sick, and ask people who are ill to avoid visits until they are no longer contagious.  If you need to take your preemie out in public, baby wearing, either in a carrier or wrap, can help deter the general public from trying to touch your child, or you can purchase a small stop sign to hang on the handle of your infant seat (or attach to your stroller) that says “Please wash your hands before touching mine.”  You can purchase a sign at My Tiny Hands or Its a Preemie Thing 

Some preemies will qualify for an antibody shot (Synagis) to help protect them from RSV infection.  Synagis works like the flu shot in that it will help lessen the severity of symptoms if RSV infection occurs, but it will not completely prevent infection from happening.  Synagis is given monthly throughout the duration of RSV season for your area.
The CDC website is a fabulous source of information on RSV.  The following are links to specific pages that may be helpful to you as you journey through the season:


Precious and priceless so lovable too, the world’s sweetest littlest miracle is, a baby like you.

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