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Cold weather, time changes, and cold & flu season — all the markers of winter approaching. Not only do we have to adjust to all these changes in our environment, but we have to start thinking about keeping our household healthy!
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World Prematurity Day and Risks of Preterm Birth
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.
World Prematurity Day is approaching on November 17th, we’re reminded to take extra precautions to frequently wash and sanitize our hands and avoid large crowds in efforts to help protect our littlest ones from contagious diseases such as RSV.
What is RSV?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), RSV, a common and contagious seasonal virus, 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. Simple measures, such as reminding friends to use hand sanitizer or to keep their distance when feeling under the weather, help to keep our little ones RSV-free during this high risk season.
- 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
Learn the Symptoms of Severe RSV Disease:
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 is over 100.4°F (rectal) in infants under 3 months of age]
How Can I Help Protect My Baby From RSV?
RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Additionally, the virus can live on the skin and surfaces for hours. There is no treatment for RSV disease once it’s contracted, so prevention is critical. To help minimize the spread of RSV disease, all parents should:
- Wash their hands and ask others to do the same
- Keep toys, clothes, blanket and sheets clean
- Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season
- Never let anyone smoke around your baby
- Steer clear of people who are sick or who have recently been sick
Is your baby at risk?
Speak to your child’s pediatrician to determine if your baby is at high risk for RSV disease, and if so, what additional steps may be recommended. For more information about RSV and prevention, visit www.RSVprotection.com.
So tell us…
Had you ever heard of RSV before? What steps will you take to keep your family virus free this winter?
**All data, definitions, and facts provided by MedImmune