How to Keep Babies Safe from RSV

How to Keep Babies Safe from RSV

RSV premature infantPerils of Preemies

I rarely heard of someone having a premature baby until it happened to a close friend of mine.  We were both pregnant at the same time (first child for each of us).  She was due in late September and I was due early December.   Our kids were going to be in the same grade.

But instead, she ended up going into labor and delivering at 32 weeks.

Her son spent a full month in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) before he was able to go home with his parents.  Can you imagine leaving the hospital without your baby?

But that wasn’t the end of it.   Even once the baby was home,  they couldn’t have visitors or go out in public.

The doctors were afraid that because he was a preemie (underdeveloped lungs and immature immune system), that their baby was vulnerable to infection from a virus called RSV.  He even had a nurse come to their house once a month (for six months) to give their baby an RSV vaccination.  RSV is that concerning for premature infants.

My friend wasn’t the only person close to me that delivered prematurely.  My cousin delivered her daughter at 33 weeks, a close friend from college delivered her son at 35 weeks, and another cousin delivered her son at 32 weeks.   Each and every one of them quickly had to learn what RSV was and how to protect their babies.

What is RSV?

If you’ve never heard of RSV, you’re not alone.  67% of moms haven’t.  Below are some highlights:

  • RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization in the US.
  • Up to 500 infants die each year due to RSV.
  • Average RSV related costs were 2.5 times more expensive for preemie babies than full term ones (longer hospital stays).
  • RSV is very common and can live on doorknobs, countertops, and toys for hours.
  • Almost 100% of children contract RSV by the time they are 2 years old (in most kids it is mild and is mistaken for a cold).

more information here)

Precautions for Meeting Baby


meeting infant
Introducing Baby

If you have a friend or family member with a premature baby, it is important to use these precautions when meeting the baby:

  • Postpone a visit if you feel that you may be getting sick, have recently been ill or exposed to illness (including having visited someone else in a hospital).
  • If you feel the parents are being overprotective or overly cautious, remember that they are trying to do what is best for their child.
  • Offer to help in a way that doesn’t involve handling the baby – such as laundry, cooking or dishes.
  • Wash your hands frequently—upon entering the home and especially prior to holding the baby.
  • Leave toddlers at home, especially during the winter months. Young children often carry germs and viruses, like RSV, that are easily spread.

Our children were all full term – thank goodness.  But, even without worrying about RSV, I appreciated when people followed the above guidelines.  I especially loved when people brought us dinner!  Any other tips you have to add to the list?

Has anyone close to you had a premature baby?

**Disclosure:  I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

10 Responses to How to Keep Babies Safe from RSV

  1. Awesome post! My son was a preemie (37 weeks) and I was unprepared and underinformed. I’d never heard of RSV, and neither had anyone I knew. On top of everything else, explaining to everyone why it was so important to stay out of his face and WASH THEIR HANDS over and over, when all they wanted to do was hold him all the time, was draining. If more people had this info, more parents would be prepared and more well-meaning visitors would know what they need to do (and not do)!

    • Yes! That’s the hope behind posting this campaign – get the word out so people are even aware that RSV is an issue. I certainly hadn’t heard of it.

      It is so tempting when you see those cute little babies to want to cuddle them and coo at them, but first priority is keeping them healthy.

      I’m glad things worked out for your son!

  2. Great post. Our son was a 32-weeker and spent 6 weeks in NICU. He was born in September and his first time going to the grocery store was in May. The way many people bring their babies out in public really early is so foreign to me. I don’t mean to sound judgmental, it was just something we simply could not do. He had RSV shots, which thank goodness insurance covered – and friends and family had to anti-bacterialize themselves before entering the house. We went through it all, so I totally get it.

    • I didn’t realize that Aimee. Having a preemie is scary – especially at 32 weeks. So glad he’s ok now! Your and my friends and family’s experiences are so different than mine was – I had my newborn at Target with me at 4 days old because hubs was a work and I needed more pads. Never even thought twice about taking my kids in public or catching things.

      I realize over and over how lucky I was (and am) with my kids’ health. I also am grateful that my friends educated me so that I know the dangers. I would hate to have acted as though someone were being a “helicopter parent” due to my ignorance and hope that this post helps get the word out about RSV so more parents are aware.

  3. This is an important post, Daria. I had never heard of RSV until I had my son. I was fortunate to deliver my son at 39 weeks but have several colleagues who delivered their babies at 32 and 36 weeks respectively, one of whom had RSV. I can tell you that when I delivered my son, I did what I learned from Japanese and Chinese friends while living as an expat Asia. I basically stayed at home with the baby and had very few outside visitors for the first month. After that, I would make people wash their hands if they wanted to hold him. Most people are happy to comply and often I never needed to ask.

    Now as a mother when a friend has a baby, I always make sure to wash my hands thoroughly before touching the baby. It seems paranoid but I’d rather be safe.

  4. I am so glad to see (from Blog Comment Club) that you tackled such an important issue. I take care of a lot of uninsured women who have babies here. Because they can’t get prenatal care, they are far more likely to have premies, and then those kids need these very expensive (over $1000 per shot) vaccines and also have lots of difficult health problems for years. Thanks for bringing up this important topic.

    • Wow, $1000 PER shot! Yikes! I can’t imagine not being able to get the treatment you need for your baby just because of money – I hope there are programs out there to help subsidize the costs – especially since long term health care costs to care for kids with side effects are much more pricey than the shots to keep them healthy in the first place.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I need to get more active in the Comment Club…

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