World Prematurity Day is November 17th: Learn the Risks of Premature Birth

By Shannon Gurnee
In Babies
November 16, 2013

MedImmune RSV Disclosure

Couple taking a pregnancy test

From the moment you see that positive sign on your pregnancy test or receive confirmation from a medical specialist that you’re pregnant, you immediately start thinking of how you can give the best to that precious life growing within you.  I know the moment I learned I was pregnant with my first (and each one after that), I began looking at everything differently around me and would do everything I could to protect my baby.  This deep love and concern only grew greater once I heard his first cries.  I wanted my baby to be happy and healthy.

Adorable toddler's foot on white blanket

Brian was born during the winter season, when RSV was at its highest.  I had family and friends around me warning me about the dangers of RSV and how they knew of families who had lost babies because of it.  Not exactly the thing you want to hear when you are learning how to be a mother for the first time.  However, if I hadn’t heard of RSV and learned more about it, I would have been at a disadvantage in that I wouldn’t have known what it was or how to prevent it.

With autumn in full swing, not only do we have to adjust to changes in time and weather, but it also marks the beginning of cold and flu season.  In addition to taking precautions to protect our babies and toddlers, premature babies prove especially vulnerable to catch germs and other illnesses.  November 17th is World Prematurity Day – a day in which we’re reminded to take extra precautions to frequently wash and sanitize our hands and avoid large crowds in efforts to help protect our newest little ones.

 Mother holds her dreaming child

Did you know that each year worldwide, 13 million babies are born prematurely, and more than one million preemies have dies 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 health provider about the risk of delivering prematurely and the potential consequences of preterm birth for their child.  Be sure to check out this Helpful RSV Infographic.

What is RSV

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a common and contagious seasonal virus that occurs annually in epidemics throughout the fall and spring seasons.  In healthy, full term babies, RSV can cause mild to moderate cold-like symptoms.  However, for infants born at or before 37 weeks, RSV proves a great risk due to their undeveloped lungs and immature immune systems.  While contracted by nearly all children by the age of two, RSV poses a serious threat to premature babies.

What are the symptoms of RSV?

Be sure to contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

– Persistent coughing or wheezing

– Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails

– Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths

– Fever (especially if it’s over 100.4˚ (rectal) in infants under 3 months of age

MedImmune RSV Awareness

How Can I Protect My Baby From RSV?

Remember, RSV is very contagious!  It can be easily spread through touching, sneezing and coughing.  The virus can even live on the skin and surface for hours.  There is no treatment for RSV disease once it’s contracted, so prevention is critical.  To help minimize the spread of RSV, all parents should:

Wash your hands and ask others to do the same

– Keep toys, clothes, blankets and sheets cleans

– Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season

– Never let anyone smoke around your baby

– Steer clear of people who are sick or have recently been sick


Do you have any additional tips to offer in protecting premature babies from RSV?


About Has 2149 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of Redhead Mom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

7 Responses to “World Prematurity Day is November 17th: Learn the Risks of Premature Birth”

  1. Betsy Barnes says:

    My son was born at 33 weeks, had healthy lungs, however, he spent 21 days in the hospital. Soon after we brought him home, in the middle of winter, we told family and friends to stay away because of his risk to RSV, we tried very hard not to leave the house, practice all the things to keep germs away, our son developed RSV at 3 months, spent a week in the hospital. Even though we so very careful, he still got sick. He has been healthy ever since and turns 21 on December 3rd, so proud, yet seems like yesterday we were bringing him home 🙂

  2. Thank you for this very important information!!!

  3. Samantha K says:

    I think this is very important for not only moms, but for everyone. RSV is serious and can be scary. Good tips and information.

  4. Mitch says:

    I have been to some related events, it is amazing how young some babies are born and with today’s medical science, can flourish!

  5. Angela says:

    One of my sisters was a premature and nobody thought she would make it, but thankfully she did. Thanks for sharing this very important information. It’s a good reminder to us all.

  6. mel says:

    My daughter had RSV so I know the importance of this! Thanks for the very informative article! I also know a lot of babies born premature.

  7. Wow, it is so scary. It is amazing, with everything that can go wrong, how many babies are born healthy. Thanks for the information.

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