Since I started blogging back in 2008, I try to make a point to highlight monthly observations that are near and dear to my heart, while sharing personal stories around them. From different cancer awareness months to National Family Caregiver Month this month, another important observance for November is for World Prematurity Day on November 17th.
"Each year worldwide, 13 million babies are born prematurely, and more than one million preemies have died just this year from the serious health challenges they face. The current rate of prematurity in the United States is 12.2 percent—one of the highest rates of preterm birth in the world. Even more alarming is that the rates have risen by 36 percent over the last 25 years. Despite these overwhelming numbers, many parents still aren’t aware of the risks of being born too soon—the leading cause of neonatal death. In fact, a recent survey found that 75 percent 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. In the time leading up to November 17—World Prematurity Day—we’re hoping to educate all parents about the potential risks associated with preterm births, so parents of preemies are prepared to help protect these vulnerable babies. Since prematurity disrupts a baby’s development in the womb and often stunts the growth of their most critical organs, preemies are susceptible to a variety of illnesses and infections, especially during the winter months. As we head into November, it’s a perfect time to remind parents—especially parents of preemies—about one seasonal virus that poses a threat to infants."
One illness that parents of preemies have to be concerned and on the lookout for is RSV Disease. Not familiar with RSV disease? I wasn't either, until a couple of my close friends had to experience this virus that affects the lungs of babies firsthand.
Want to hear some startling statistics about RSV Disease?
• 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
If you are expecting or recently welcomed a new baby into your family, make sure that you are aware of RSV, and know what you can do to reduce your child's risk on contracting this deadly virus.
RSV is a virus that infects the lungs
- "RSV or respiratory syncytial [sin-sish-uhl] virus is a contagious viral disease that may infect a person's lungs and breathing passages
- Most children will catch RSV by the age of 2 years
- RSV spreads rapidly among children. While most will recover in 1 to 2 weeks, even after recovery, infants and children can continue to spread the virus for 1 to 3 weeks
Know the Symptoms of RSV Disease --
"RSV typically causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms, but in some babies it results in a serious respiratory infection. Those most at risk for severe RSV include premature infants, as their lungs aren’t fully developed and they have fewer infection-fighting antibodies than full-term babies."
Other symptoms of RSV that you should be on the lookout for are:
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
- Blue color on the lips, mouths or under the fingernails
"Once contracted, there is no treatment for RSV, so working together to prevent the risk of RSV is critical. If a child has milder symptoms of RSV, the virus will likely run its course without any cause for parental alarm. It is important; however, for these parents to remember that even a mild case of RSV can be spread to other children, some of whom may be at high-risk for developing a serious infection from the virus. For this reason, it’s always best to keep a sick child home when possible, to prevent the spread of germs and viruses."
Help prevent RSV disease"You want to make sure you do everything you can to help protect your infant from RSV disease. RSV disease is spread just as easily as the flu. Sneezing, coughing, and touching are all examples of ways RSV can put your infant at risk. Taking a few extra precautions around your family and friends can help protect your baby."
"Remember, although there is no cure for RSV disease, there are prevention methods. Talk to your doctor to see how you can help protect your baby."
Like the Flu, RSV Disease is Seasonal --
"RSV season usually runs from fall into spring. Find out, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, when RSV season started and ended in ‘10-'11 where you live -- Click here to learn more about RSV Disease, and how to protect your little one -- https://www.rsvprotection.com/."
Don't forget to download and read through the RSV Fact Sheet. You can even print it out and give it to your friends and family to spread the awareness of RSV. Click here to download the .pdf RSV Fact Sheet now -- https://www.rsvprotection.com/_assets/pdf/RSV_QuickFacts-EN.pdf.
Please share this post with family and friends, so that they can be more aware about RSV Disease. Thank you!
Disclosure: 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.