Wednesday, October 22, 2008

RSV time again

If you are not aware of RSV, you are among the majority. Although nearly every child by the age of 2 has been infected with RSV, most have not heard of it. For full-term babies, RSV is typically not any worse than a common cold. For preemies, it is much different. It is a serious virus that is very easily contracted, and for those born earlier than 36 weeks, it poses major risks (pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and other more serious complications, some fatal). The babies were born at 28 weeks, diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dyplasia (BPD) and also had low birth weights, all of which are the highest risk factors for contracting serious RSV.

Stopping the spread of RSV is very difficult. Thus, we must be vigilant about keeping our children safe during RSV season (October through April). It is spread through physical contact, through the air via a cough or sneeze, or picked up via touching an infected object. Since it can live as long as 6 hours on your hands and up to 12 hours on objects, you can see how difficult it is to prevent exposure. It is very easily spread, especially from child to child, and studies have shown that other infants pose an even higher risk at spreading RSV from one infant to another. Some people have asked, “Can’t they just fight it off and it will build up their immune system? Kids need to get sick, right?”. The simple answer is no. Since our babies were 3 months pre-term, they did not acquire the necessary immunities to fight off infection. If they acquire RSV, they could likely be hospitalized and develop other serious complications. The saying, "there is no cure for the common cold" is true for RSV. It’s up to the baby’s very weak immune system to fight off the infection, which is why many times it leads to more complications. Here is a great visual comparison of a preemies lungs compared to a full-term baby:
According to an online RSV tracking page, cases of RSV have already begun to show up in Michigan. Thus, the season has begun and we’ll be asking our visitors to follow a few guidelines in hopes of preventing Parker and McKenna from contracting RSV or any other illness.

We ask that all visitors do the following:

- When you arrive, please wash your hands and use hand-sanitizer as needed before touching the kids
- Please refrain from coming over if you are currently sick, if you live with someone who is currently sick, have been in contact with someone who is sick, and/or if you have not been symptom-free for at least 7 days.
- If you smoke, we ask that you refrain from smoking just prior to visiting, as their lungs are very sensitive. Most RSV sites recommend against passive smoke exposure. Although it’s not second hand smoke, it does linger and we’d prefer to be safe rather than add another risk factor.
- If you are parents to a baby or toddler, please refrain from bringing them to the house during RSV season.

We will not be attending events during RSV season, which unfortunately coincides with numerous gatherings, including the holidays. It is our goal to make it through this RSV season just like the last, without Parker and McKenna contracting RSV or any other serious illness. Their lungs have come a long way. But believe it or not, they are still very fragile, at least until they are 2. Then we can all breathe a little easier. We hope you understand and we appreciate your support as always!

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