Protecting Babies from RSV

Toddler Meets New Baby

Everyone loves babies. We all want to hold them, cuddle them and marvel at them.  While we have only the best intentions, it’s easy to forget that we need to take special care to protect these little ones from germs and illnesses. It’s common sense to wash your hands before touching a baby, but it’s amazing how fast common sense goes out the window when you’re staring at an angelic little face.  On our first trip to the zoo with my twins, we were approached by a woman who gushed over how cute they were, then impulsively grabbed my daughters hand and started kissing it.  I’m  was stunned and struggled to maintain my composure long enough to remove the babies from the situation and wash their hands just in case.

Before the birth of my first son, I had never heard of RSV.  Nearly every baby will be exposed to this virus by the age of 2.  Serious infections can cause hospitalization and even death, in fact, RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization for infants.  While we were lucky not to have any RSV related medical issues with our kids, it was a common topic of conversation among a group of mothers I am close with.  Several infants in our group ended up requiring treatments ranging from inhalers to hospitalization. The risks of RSV are especially great for premature babies, as illustrated in this infographic.

RSV Infographic

Spreading awareness of RSV and general new baby etiquette can go a long way towards keeping new arrivals healthy.

A few tips to remember when a loved one has a new baby:

  • Call before you visit. New parents need time to set up a routine and bond. By giving them time to do so before you visit, you are respecting the new family.
  • Postpone a visit if you feel that you may be getting sick, have recently been ill or exposed to illness.
  • Remember that parents know best. If you feel they are being overprotective or overly cautious, just consider that only they know what’s best for the health of their new son or daughter.
  • Offer to do something to ease their responsibilities as they spend time as a family, such as laundry, cooking or dishes. Sleep-deprived moms and dads will appreciate your help!

If you do schedule a visit with a new baby:

  • Wash your hands frequently—upon entering the home and especially prior to holding the baby. Parents, and the new baby, will appreciate it.
  • Leave toddlers at home, especially during the winter months. Young children, especially if they attend day care or preschool, often carry germs and viruses, like RSV, that are easily spread.

A few facts about RSV that all parents, caregivers and loved ones should know:

  • Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
  • Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
  • There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child (e.g., wash hands, toys, bedding frequently; avoid crowds and cigarette smoke).
  • Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV, and discuss preventive measures.
  • Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.

To learn more about RSV, visit

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

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