Tsue ~ That's What She Said: Family Health: Understanding & Preventing RSV Disease

Friday, November 23, 2012

Family Health: Understanding & Preventing RSV Disease

After one fun-filled day with the whole family, including all eight of the grandchildren in our family, and looking forward to a weekend of more giggles, adventures and memories, I realize how thankful I am that our number of busy little bodies is eight.

Although my youngest sister and I were blessed in that we experienced fairly normal pregnancies, our middle sister was not so fortunate.  After experiencing difficulties in her first pregnancy, necessitating early and strict bed rest, the entire family was beyond relieved that her first son, born premature, thrived quickly and did not experience any long-term complications.

Preemie Health Risks, RSV High Risk, Children's Health, Medimmune

On pins and needles, in later years, we welcomed two more of her children into our growing, extended family.  Armed with her penchant for early delivery, with each of her subsequent pregnancies, my sister was relegated to bed rest after reaching the second trimester.   Even though we were certainly happy to welcome each new tiny person into our fold, the joy of their birth was somewhat overshadowed by concern of the development of premature birth complications.


13 million babies are born early every year, including more than half a 
million in the United States.  Defined, 
prematurity is being born at or before 37 weeks gestation age with the average gestational period being forty weeks. 
Prematurity disrupts a baby’s development in the womb, often stunting the growth of some of the body’s most critical organs. These babies are at an increased risk of serious medical complications and regularly face weeks or even months in the NICU. 

Fortunately, my sister had the benefit of an outstanding medical support on her side and was well versed in signs of trouble and distress to be alert to.  In caring for all infants, preemies in particular, knowledge is key to ensuring a healthy and positive outcome and in preventing and treating concerns as they arise.

A prevalent concern at this time of year, especially for preemies, is RSV disease.  I easily recall, as a new mother, simply trying to navigate my way through the myriad of challenges motherhood naturally presents.  New and regularly changing routines, the complexity of interpreting your infants needs and wants, lack of sleep, as well as overload of information and well-meaning advise, can leave a new mother off kilter.  I can recall hearing of RSV, a fleeting mention from our pediatrician, perhaps a pamphlet and having categorized it into the danger grouping in my weary mother's mind.

Understanding RSV

Because their immune systems and lungs are not fully developed, premature infants are more likely to develop infections and are more susceptible to respiratory problems. In fact, 79 percent of preemie moms have a baby who was hospitalized due to a severe respiratory infection.

RSV, respiratory syncytical virus, is contracted by most children under the age of two.  Although in a healthy child, the symptoms present similarly to the common cold and passes without complication, certain groups of infants and young children are at risk for RSV to lead to much more serious health concerns, including severe viral lung infections..  Those in the RSV high risk category include: preemies, as well as children and infants born at low birth weight, to families with asthma history, with particular lung or heart diseases and, due the highly contagious nature of the disease, those in frequent contact with other children.  RSV is most prevalent in the United States during the months of November to March, with certain geographic areas varying slightly.   For example, in Michigan, the common RSV season runs from December to April.

Preventing And Recognizing RSV

RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. 
  • Speak with your pediatrician about possible preventative treatments if your child is in a high risk category for RSV
  • Everyone in contact with your child should wash their hands often.
  • Keep hand sanitizer readily available for use
  • Avoid exposing your child to others who are ill or large crowds
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke near your child
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following symptoms:
  • High fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Severe coughing or wheezing
  • Rapid gasping breaths
  • Blue color at lips, mouth or under fingernails
Especially as a new mother, I remember being concerned about every irregularity, every hiccup and sneeze.  Although many children are exposed to RSV without significant complication, the number of infants and children who do experience serious symptoms and health issues is cause enough to warrant spreading the word.  Armed with knowledge of RSV, mothers of children in the RSV high risk categories can seek ways to prevent RSV and be watchful of warning signs, especially during the peak RSV season which is upon us across the United States.  If a friend or family member's child falls into the high risk category, please ask them about their knowledge of RSV and refer them to RSVProtection.com to arm themselves with resources and understanding.

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.  The opinions above are both honest and of my own experiences.  Information about RSV and  image sourced from Mom Central and RSVProtection.com.


Pam said...

My niece had rsv when she was six weeks old. It was a scary time for all of us.

Crystal Threeprncs said...

Thank you for helping spread awarness. This issue touches home for a lot of my friends and family

Grace Hodgin said...

I've been reading about this and it is so important to spread the word so others may know more about it. Having a baby is always a concern for the mother and family so being kept informed is a must.

Melanie a/k/a CrazyMom said...

What a wonderful post; thank you for spreading the word; I had never heard of this before and I'm in AWWW. I need to learn more and see how I can help, too. Thanks for posting about how to prevent RSV disease and how to prevent it.

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