–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – CONTEXTO LATINO)–It is common for parents to overreact to their newborn’s every sniffle and cough. But just because every child gets colds, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to simply dismiss such symptoms as “just a cold,” especially if the child was born prematurely.
Every 60 seconds, a premature baby, or “preemie,” is born in the United States. According to recent data (March of Dimes 11.2005), the preterm birth rate among Hispanic women has steadily increased by more than 8 percent over the past decade. As a result, it is imperative that Hispanics are informed of the risks so that they may take the necessary precautions to protect their babies.
A primary step parents should take is to protect their preemie from a common viral infection known as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the number one viral killer of children under 5 years of age. The following questions and answers can help parents understand the potential risks of RSV infection for their premature infants:
Q. What is RSV?
A. RSV is a virus that causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages. RSV infects approximately two-thirds of all infants during the first year of life and 90 percent of all children by age 2.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the infants at highest risk of developing severe RSV disease are those born prematurely (at a gestational age of less than 36 weeks) or those with chronic lung or heart disease or a compromised immune system. Preemies are at higher risk for RSV infection because their lungs are underdeveloped and they don’t have enough antibodies to fight off infections.
Q. How can I protect my child from RSV?
A. By decreasing exposure to the virus and taking timely medical action, you can help protect your preemie against RSV. Recommended steps include: proper hand-washing; regular washing of your baby’s toys, clothes, play areas and bedding; avoiding crowds during virus season; avoiding environmental air pollutants; and asking your pediatrician about RSV prevention medication.
Q. How can I recognize RSV and what should I do?
A. Call your pediatrician right away if your premature infant: develops a cold; has fast breathing or breathing problems, wheezing, worsening cough, or blue appearance around the mouth or fingernails; or develops a fever of more than 100.4 degrees F in the first three months, more than 101 degrees F between 3 and 6 months, or more than 103 degrees F after 6 months. If your baby has an RSV infection, make sure he or she gets plenty of rest and drinks lots of clear fluids.
Q. Are there long-term health consequences that result from severe RSV infection?
A. RSV infection in infancy can affect a child’s health as he grows because of an increased risk of recurrent wheezing until early adolescence. The precise relationship between RSV infection in infancy and increased risk for various respiratory problems, including asthma, later in childhood is an area of ongoing medical study.
To learn more about RSV, its symptoms and potential consequences, speak with your child’s pediatrician or visit http://www.RSVprotection.com.
Preemies and RSV
Preemies are at roughly twice the risk of being hospitalized for a severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection than full-term infants. The virus, which causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages, can cause serious health consequences for preemies. To learn more about RSV, speak to your child’s pediatrician or visit http://www.RSVprotection.com.
1 Hemming VG, Prince GA, Groothuis JR, Siber GR Hyperimmune Globulins in prevention and treatment of respiratory syncytial virus infections. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1995;8;22-23 [Abstract] [CITED IN: Commentary: Immunoprophylaxis and the Control of RSV Disease, Pediatrics, 1997;100; 2:260-262; accessed online at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/100/2/260]
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