Thursday, November 14, 2013

World Prematurity Day & RSV Prevention

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for MedImmune. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

November 17 is World Prematurity Day; a day where in countries around the world we raise awareness about premature birth and how it can be prevented. Each year 13 million babies are born prematurely globally, and more than one million preemies have died in 2013 alone from the serious health challenges they face. Currently, the US rate of prematurity is 12.2%- one of the highest rates of preterm birth in the world. Even more alarming is that the rates have risen by 36% over the last 25 years. Yet many parents still aren’t aware of the risks of being born too early - the leading cause of neonatal death. A recent survey found that 75% of parents don’t know the definition of prematurity (birth at or before 37 weeks gestation), and during prenatal care, most pregnant women don’t ask their healthcare provider about the risk of delivering prematurely and the potential consequences of preterm birth for their child.

As preemies often have specialized health needs, it’s important to raise awareness of the increased risks that often come with premature birth. One of those risks facing preemies is respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). When my youngest son was just three weeks old, he contracted RSV, which was most likely brought home by his four year old big brother from preschool. In older babies, RSV is just a bad cold, but in newborns and especially preemies it can be life threatening. Preterm infants are born with undeveloped lungs and immature immune systems that put them at heightened risk for developing severe RSV disease, often requiring hospitalization.

While my son was not premature, he was still only weeks old and the virus took over his lungs. The five days I spent at the hospital by my baby boy's side were the most terrifying of my life. Watching his little body with oxygen monitors hooked up to him and an oxygen tube blowing into his face was heart wrenching. That is something I want to help prevent other mothers from experiencing.

Key RSV Facts

  • RSV occurs in epidemics each year, typically from November through March, though it can vary by geography and year-to-year
  • RSV disease is the leading cause of hospitalization for babies during their first year of life in the United States, with approximately 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 400 infant deaths each year
  • RSV disease is responsible for one of every 13 pediatrician visits and one of every 38 trips to the ER in children under the age of five
  • Despite being so common, many parents aren’t aware of RSV; in fact, one-third of mothers have never heard of the virus

Learn the Symptoms of Severe RSV Disease
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Fever [especially if it is over 100.4°F (rectal) in infants under 3 months of age]

How Can I Help Protect My Baby From RSV?
To help minimize the spread of RSV disease, all parents should:

  • Wash their hands and ask everyone to do the same
  • Keep toys, clothes, blanket and sheets clean
  • Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season
  • Never let anyone smoke around your baby
  • Steer clear of people who are sick or who have recently been sick

To learn more please visit


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