‘Tis the season for the common cold, and for premature babies and infants, this season is a particularly worrisome one. You may have heard of the recent social media messaging trend known as, “Don’t Kiss My Baby”. Have you wondered what the big deal is, and why this campaign has become so popular? Maybe you thought the parents posting about this were overly cautious, and just germaphobes.
This post will bring to light why the “Don’t Kiss My Baby” message online has gotten so much traction, and why it is, in fact, a societal concern.
What is RSV?
RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus. This is a common virus in infancy and early childhood. By age 2-3 most children will have been infected at some point.
RSV infections tend to pop up from Fall to Spring in temperate climates, like Canada. For many children, RSV is a common winter illness, similar to the common cold. However, for a premature baby and children under 2 years old, RSV can lead to infection in the lungs, leading to the hospitalization of the child. It can cause pneumonia and in the most severe cases can cause bronchiolitis in the first year of life.
What Are the Symptoms and Consequences of RSV?
The symptoms may first appear in an infant as the following:
- Runny nose
- Other cold-like symptoms
RSV is a highly infectious virus. If your baby is showing these signs, consult your paediatric doctor. In adults, the symptoms are generally passed off as the common cold.
Practical Tips for Keeping Babies Healthy this Season
It is very easy to catch RSV, which puts premature babies and children under the age of 2 at even greater risk. To reduce the risk of spreading RSV to a vulnerable infant, consider these practical tips:
- Wash or sanitize hands regularly: RSV is a common virus spread through physical contact, such as touching skin, kissing or shaking hands with an infected person. Do not kiss a baby, only hold or hug instead.
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze: RSV can be spread through the air if an infected person coughs or sneezes, causing the disease to become airborne
- Clean appropriate surfaces if an infected person has been present: RSV can live for hours on countertops, door knobs and other surfaces which are frequently touched with hands.
- If infected with a cold or fever, stay away from children under the age of 1: As premature and very young children are in danger of hospitalization and extremely dangerous illness. Be conscientious and do not expose illness to a vulnerable baby.