Preemie Awareness and RSV Prevention – What You Need to Know!

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Up until a few years ago, I did not personally know anyone that had given birth prematurely to a baby, or effected by RSV. In fact, my own daughter born after being almost a week overdue! That all changed when the wife of one of my coworkers went into labor early, resulting in the dangerously premature birth of their triplets.
Through my friend and coworker Aaron, I began to learn about the life-threatening challenges newborns face after premature births. After losing his son, and finally being able to bring his two daughters home from the hospital after months of fighting for their lives, Aaron and his family began to spread awareness about the health risks associated with premature births through the March of Dimes and other organizations.  
One of the things I learned about was how closely parents must monitor preemies for RSV, or respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus. RSV causes an illness that is very similar to the common cold, but some babies – especially preemies because of their lungs are not fully-developed – may be at high risk for severe RSV disease, which can lead to serious complications, and in some cases, death.
Despite recent reports that there has been a slight decline in rates of prematurity, over 1,400 babies are still-born prematurely in the United States every day, not to mention countless millions around the world. Prematurity, defined as being born before 37 weeks completed gestation, often disrupts the growth of some of the baby’s most critical organs. At birth, preemies often have difficulty with breathing, feeding and maintaining temperature – all things that cause them to grow! Because their immune systems haven’t had time to fully mature in utero, preterm infants are more likely to develop infections, and because their lungs are underdeveloped, they are more susceptible to respiratory problems. .
While RSV is a very common, easy to spread virus, at least one in three mothers have not heard of it yet. This makes prevention very difficult – most children will catch it at least once by the time they turn 2 years old. RSV disease usually causes moderate-to-severe cold symptoms, but for some babies, complications from RSV disease can lead to a serious lung infection. RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring and the CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America. For instance, RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
Characteristics of RSV include:
  • Coughing or wheezing that doesn’t cease
  • Fast breathing or gasping for breath
  • Spread-out nostrils and/or a caved-in chest when attempting to breathe
  • A bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
  • A fever
  • Difficulty eating

November 17th was RSV Prevention and World Prematurity Day, and I am so honored to be able to share this information with my readers about this subject.

While there is no treatment available for RSV, there are a few things you can do to prevent your child from catching the virus.

  • Wash your hands, toys, bedding, and play areas as frequently as possible
  • Ensure that you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid large crowds and people who may be sick
  • Never let anyone smoke near your baby

To learn more about RSV, visit RSVProtection, and for more about the specialized health needs of preterm infants, visit preemievoices.


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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