RSV: The Facts and Prevention

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is extremely common among infants and childrens. The Mayo Clinic says most children have been infected by age 2, whether you know it or not!

A Mayo Clnic article explains:

Signs and symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus infection typically appear about four to six days after exposure to the virus. In adults and older children, RSV usually causes mild cold-like signs and symptoms. These include:

  • Congested or runny nose

  • Dry cough

  • Low-grade fever

  • Sore throat

  • Mild headache

  • A general feeling of unease and discomfort (malaise)

In severe cases
Respiratory syncytial virus can lead to a lower respiratory tract illness such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis — an inflammation of the small airway passages entering the lungs. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • High fever

  • Severe cough

  • Wheezing — a high-pitched noise that’s usually heard on breathing out (exhaling)

  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, which may make the child prefer to sit up rather than lie down

  • Bluish color of the skin due to lack of oxygen (cyanosis)

Infants are most severely affected by RSV. They may markedly draw in their chest muscles and the skin between their ribs, indicating that they’re having trouble breathing, and their breathing may be short, shallow and rapid. They may cough. Or they may show few, if any, signs of a respiratory tract infection, but will eat poorly and be unusually lethargic and irritable.

Most children and adults recover from the illness in eight to 15 days. But in young babies, infants born prematurely, or infants or adults who have chronic heart or lung problems, the virus may cause a more severe — occasionally life-threatening — infection that requires hospitalization.

Diabetes

There is a medication used for RSV prevention, Synagis®. It is specifically used for children younger than 2 who are at high risk for serious RSV. It is not a single injection but must be repeated on a monthly basis during peak RSV season and repeated in subsequent years until the child is no longer at high risk. Those babies most at risk are those who were born prematurely, those less than 6 weeks old, those with congenital heart or chronic lung disease, and those with immune deficiencies.

If you are having a winter baby and have any high-risk history or know your baby may be premature, go ahead and talk to your OB and pediatrician about RSV. It may be difficult to secure insurance coverage for the shots, so you may need to get the ball rolling.

Have you had any experience with RSV?

Early Arrival

In the December 2009 issue of ParentLife, we chose to cover a topic that is very close to my heart. In our monthly column "On the Way" (for expectant parents), we provided information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about bringing home a premature infant. I can tell you all about this from firsthand experience!

105_NICUJack.jpgDue to pregnancy complications, my little boy (Jack) was born one month early. Because he was early, his lungs were not as strong as they needed to be, and while I’m not sure he was ever in a life-threatening situation, he needed help getting the oxygen he needed. He spent a week in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where the amazing nurses took fabulous care of him until he was strong enough to come home!

The day we brought him home was very exciting and very scary. For a week, nurses had been there to help us take care of him and oversee that we were doing things correctly. In fact, the night before we brought him home, the hospital allowed us to "room in" with him. They have a special room right next to the NICU where parents are allowed to stay overnight on a test run before sending a baby home. We were responsible for his care all night, but it was comforting knowing that a nurse was only steps away at all times if we needed her! Suddenly, we were home with this tiny life. It’s scary enough bringing home a full-term, healthy baby. But add to that a month of prematurity and breathing issues and it was downright scary. It took us some time to relax and trust that Jack was doing fine and breathing on his own without any trouble.

While the first few weeks with Jack were scary for us, we are very blessed that everything turned out fine and there have been no long-term problems. Not every family, can say that. Many families have babies that spend much more time in the NICU and have long-term complications to worry about. That is why the ParentLife team felt it was important to provide expectant parents with information related to this topic. We want to provide encouragement and support to families, especially those going through a difficult time.

How have your family helped support parents going through a difficut time like this? Or have you been in this kind of situation? Where did you find encouragement and support? What advice would you have for those wanting to help? How can ParentLife provide more support?

Pregnancy Complications

As you probably already know from my post a week or two ago, we are about to celebrate my little boy’s first birthday this Saturday! But one year ago yesterday actually marked the beginning of the events leading up to his arrival. I experienced a complication in my pregnancy called preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a disorder that occurs during pregnancy and the postpartum period. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, preeclampsia affects at least 5 to 8 percent of all pregnancies.

Some of the symptoms of preeclampsia include the following.

  • High blood pressure (140/90 or higher)
  • Excess protein in the urine
  • Severe headaches
  • Vision changes
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Swelling (especially in the face and hands)

Most of the time, preeclampsia only modestly increases blood pressure, but if left untreated, it can lead to serious (possibly fatal) complications for you and your baby. The only cure is delivery of the baby. The disorder is actually responsible for 15% of premature births in the United States every year. (Be sure not to miss our article on prematurity coming up in the December 2009 issue of ParentLife.)

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor. Check out the Mayo Clinic’s tips for preparing for your doctor visit for helpful questions to ask.

65.Jack_NICU.jpgThere is no way to prevent preeclampsia. In order to take the best care of yourself and your baby, be sure to seek early and regular prenatal care.

My sweet little boy, Jack, was delivered exactly one month earlier than expected and spent about a week in the NICU, but he is now so happy and healthy (thanks to an awesome medical team). You would never know he had such a difficult start.

 If you are an expectant parent, be sure to check out ParentLife‘s monthly department "On the Way." Our goal is to provide you with practical and encouraging information to help you during your pregnancy. What kind of information would you like to see in our "On the Way" deparmtent? Leave us a comment and let us know. We’d love to hear from you!

March for Babies

Today more than 1,400 babies in the U.S. will be born prematurely. Many will be too small and too sick to go home. Instead, they face weeks or even months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

This topic is very close to my heart, because my little boy, Jack, was actually born four weeks early and spent almost a week in the NICU. We are so thankful that Jack was able to make a complete recovery!

36_MarchofDimesLogo.gifThe March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. March of Dimes researchers, volunteers, educators, outreach workers, and advocates work together to give all babies a fighting chance against the threats to their health: prematurity, birth defects, low birthweight.

And now … you can help the March of Dimes by participating in their March for Babies — America’s favorite walking event! When you walk, you give hope to the families of babies born too soon or sick. The money you raise supports programs in your community that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies. And it funds research to find answers to the serious problems that threaten babies. The March for Babies started in 1970 and since then an incredible $1.8 billion have been raised to benefit all babies.

March for Babies takes place in more than 900 communities across the country. If you participate, you’ll be joining 1 million people walking with their families or co-workers.

To join a team, start a team, or find an event in your area, visit www.marchforbabies.org.

Have you participated in the March for Babies? Tell us about your experience.