According to a March of Dimes survey, most expecting parents don’t discuss preterm birth with their doctor during prenatal care, even if they are at high risk. On November 17 – World Prematurity Day – we’re hoping to help change this.
I marvel at how lucky we are to live in current times, where there has been a recent slight decline in rates of prematurity; however, 1,400 babies are still born prematurely in the United States every day, and 13 million babies are affected by prematurity around the world. Born before 37 weeks, premature births can be a life threatening situation since premature babies often have difficulty with breathing, feeding and maintaining temperature. These babies are also more likely to develop infections, and because of underdeveloped lungs, they are more susceptible to respiratory problems.
Even before I was pregnant with my first child I thought about how lucky I was for being a full term baby. It most likely wouldn’t have crossed my mind at all were it not for my father, a preemie. Being born more than 2 months early in 1950 did not put my dad high on the survival list. In fact, the doctors even told my grandparents to not expect him to survive – I can’t even imagine hearing something like that from a doctor. Like many instances throughout his life, my dad was a fighter and here I am today to prove it.
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Flash forward a few decades and now I’ve personally witnessed the miracles of premature births. A good, online friend of mine had her twins at 26 weeks and another girlfriend had her little girl at 32 weeks. All three of these beautiful babies are now rambunctious three-and-a-half year olds, but their first few years were markedly different than that of my boys. I remember my friend kept her twins essentially secluded from the outside world for nearly their first year of life because the danger of contracting RSV was so high. And while “nearly every baby contracts RSV by age 2, most full-term babies, symptoms are similar to those of the common cold and parents may not even know their child has the virus. However, because they don’t have the antibodies needed to fight off infection, preterminfants—even those born just a few weeks early—are at increased risk for developing an RSV-related infection, often requiring medical attention or hospitalization”.
On November 17th, remember those that have had premature births, that are preemies themselves, or that have lost a baby due as a complication of RSV. The March of Dimes has more information regarding preterm labor, premature birth and the NICU. And, since knowledge is power, educate yourself about premature births and the impact of RSV.
RSV Quick Facts:
- RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
- RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
- Certain regions have longer RSV seasons than others, with the season beginning as early as July (e.g., Florida) or ending in April.
- Despite its prevalence, one-third of mothers have never heard of RSV.
- Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequentlyEnsure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
- Avoid large crowds and people who may be sick
- Never let anyone smoke near your baby
- Speak with your child’s doctor if you believe he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available
Be Aware of Symptoms:
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
- Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
- High fever
- Extreme fatigue
- Difficulty feeding
*Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate. Information regarding RSV was provided to me by the sponsor.