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