An Unexpected Culprit | Fit Pregnancy

An Unexpected Culprit

More than just a cold, respiratory syncytial virus can do permanent damage to your baby'’s lungs.

Photo: corbisimages.com

Stop It In Its Tracks

RSV spreads like wildfire — throughout households, offices and day-care centers — by physical contact. You may be next in line if you touch or kiss an infected person or handle a toy or tissue that he recently has touched, sneezed or coughed on (the virus can live on hands and surfaces for up to six hours).

Prevention is key. To keep your infant healthy during RSV season, step up your standard operating procedure of frequent hand washing with warm water and soap. Insist that anyone who holds the baby has clean hands, and limit visitors until the baby is 2 months old. Wald also recommends that parents with colds wear masks around their babies. “Keep babies out of crowds and away from people who are sick,” Wald says. “Try to separate very young babies from other children, especially preschoolers, who have colds.”

The good news is a vaccine is in development. For high-risk infants — with breathing problems or damage to their respiratory systems as a result of prematurity (bronchopulmonary dysplaysia) — RespiGam (RSV-IGIV), a high-level antibody against RSV, can be used. But it has to be administered intravenously over several hours, and monthly during RSV season. A helpful source for parents of at-risk children is the Partners in Intensive Care RSV Information Line: (888) 778-4449.

If your baby is hospitalized with RSV, the oxygen saturation level will be checked. If it is low, oxygen will be administered. Some babies may also respond to aerosol breathing treatments — called nebulizers — which are used for asthma.

You can’t make your baby invincible to RSV, but you can do everything in your power to lessen the chances of getting it.

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