World Prematurity Day, Nov 17, 2012

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Baby toes

World Prematurity Day exists to help raise awareness, especially among parents, of the potential risks associated with pre-term births, including risk of significant underdevelopment of major organs as well as the immune system, making babies more susceptible to serious complications from common viruses including the common cold, flu, and RSV.

When I was pregnant with my first son, I was at risk of having him prematurely. I ended up on 24 hours bed rest for 17 weeks and was fortunate enough to make it to full term. My doctor just kept emphasizing to us how important it was for me to make it past thirty-seven weeks, and even further if at all possible. Generally, and in most cases, every day that a baby continues to develop toward full term inside her own mother the better. I’m so grateful I did make it to full term: I did a lot of knitting during those months on my back!!

The reason for bringing all this up is research has shown many parents are unaware of the risks associated with pre-term births and, second, prematurity is the leading cause of neonatal death. The hope is by increasing awareness results can be improved.

Pre-term babies are less able to fight off common viruses. One such is RSV (also known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus), a seasonal virus that can have relatively minor symptoms in many babies, but can develop into a serious infection in high-risk babies like pre-term babies. Moms at high risk for delivering a baby pre-term and moms who already have delivered babies prematurely should be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of respiratory illnesses that could be dangerous to their babies. Here are a few facts about RSV:

  • RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization
  • RSV is most prevalent during winter months. The CDC has defined the “RSV season” as the beginning of November through March in most parts of North America.
  • In addition to prematurity, common risk factors include low birth weight, certain lung or heart diseases, a family history of asthma, and frequent contact with other children.

Prevention is Key

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap frequently
  • Wash toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
  • Ensure family members and visitors wash their hands, too.
  • Avoid large crowds and folks who are sick or have been recently
  • Never let anyone smoke near your baby
  • Speak with your child’s doctor about any new preventative therapies that may be available

Know the Symptoms and Signs of RSV infection

  • Severe coughing, wheezing, or rapid gasping breaths
  • Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
  • High fever and extreme fatigue

The RSV Protection Site has more information.

Remember, knowledge is power. Parents can sometimes feel powerless, anxious, or isolated when faced with complications from a premature birth, but arming oneself with knowledge is the first step in facing any challenge. For more information on the special needs of pre-term infants visit here.

Pic credit:  Baby Toes by sabianmaggy

 Disclosure:  This post is part of a compensated campaign in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect.  As always my opinions and comments are my own.  Please check Mama Latina Tips General Health Disclaimer and Information Purposes Legal Disclosure.


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