What is RSV in Infants and Children?

As a parent, we never know what health concerns our babies and children may encounter. Which is why it is important for us to educate ourselves on major illnesses that are life-threatening – especially in infants and children.

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When I had my daughter 17 months ago, I knew I’d be the cautious mom who wouldn’t take her baby out on cold days, go to the park often (although it was tempting), or go to any crowded places that was the recipe for catching infections. Call me the “scaredy” mom but I felt the need to take precautions to protect my child. Six months pass by and my daughter remains free from infections (my daughter caught the fever and cold for the first time at six months old).

However, one virus infection that caught my attention was RSV (also known as Respiratory Syncytial Virus) in infants and children.

To be frank, I’ve never heard of this virus infection but when I discovered that my friend’s daughter was diagnosed with RSV, it caught my attention for two reasons: 1) her daughter is around the same age as mine (13 months old at this time), which means that my daughter may have a chance of catching it as well and 2) this virus was severe enough that my friend’s daughter was hospitalized.

Hearing that RSV was severe and dangerous, was already enough to spark my curiosity. Questions began to flood my mind and this is what I learned.

What is RSV in Infants and Children?

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a contagious virus infection that affects the respiratory tract in infants and children. It can impact the airways in the lungs or the lung itself. Almost all children have encountered RSV before the age of 2 but in some children, it is severe enough to be hospitalized.

It is also an airborne disease, which means that if someone with RSV coughs, sneezes, or touches your baby, he or she can spread the virus.

Another way RSV can spread is through hard objects, counter tops, toys, items, and etc…The virus will live on hard objects and if your child touches a contaminated object, and then puts his or her hands in his or her mouth, your baby can pick up the virus. In short, let’s keep all hard objects in the house clean of harmful bacteria when possible! 🙂

Infants and children who are at a higher risk of being infected include:

  • Premature babies
  • Children with heart or lung disease
  • Children with a weak immune system

Your baby’s environment also plays a role when it comes to catching an infection. The more people your baby is exposed to, the higher the chance your little one can pick up the virus.

Certain places to be aware of include:

  • Child care centers
  • Hospitals
  • Buses
  • Restaurants
  • Entertainment centers (Dave & Buster’s, Chuck E. Cheese, etc…)
  • Trains
  • Family gatherings
  • Small places with lots of people

I find it helpful to carry a small hand sanitizer with me at all times or I keep hand wipes in the diaper bag for my convenience.

What are the symptoms of RSV?

  • Runny nose
  • Dry cough
  • Fast or trouble breathing
  • Fever
  • Vomiting

It is important that we monitor our babies at a young age as they can show signs similar to a normal cold and cough. Understanding your baby’s normal breathing activities will make it easier for you to identify any health concerns that may arise.

Make sure you contact your baby’s doctor if you notice that your baby have…

  • Hard time breathing or pauses in between each breath
  • Blue tinted lips or toes
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Pushing the belly in and out

Also, don’t wait to go to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care if your “mom instincts” are telling you that your baby is being abnormal. Any red flags should be your sign for immediate medical attention.

How can you prevent it?

There are several positive habits we can adapt to prevent RSV – starting with a prepared mind. When you are prepared, you are putting in effort to maintain a clean environment for your baby as best as possible.

Other habits to adopt include:

  • Keeping hand wipes in your bag
  • Using a car seat cover during cold or chilly weather
  • Washing your hands often before touching your baby (also wash your baby’s hands)
  • Keeping kitchen counters and other counter-top clean and sanitized
  • Avoid sharing utensils so bacteria and germs cannot be shared
  • Stay home during peak RSV season (December to mid-February)
  • Avoid crowded places with lots of people

As a mom of a toddler, I find it very important to stay alert when it comes to baby viruses and illnesses. Seeing our little ones hurt and helpless is the last thing I want to go through and I’m sure you feel the same way as well! #babyhealth

Oh, and one more thing.

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