When I was about 8 months pregnant with our younger son, my older son got really sick. He had had bronchiolitis several times as a baby/toddler so we took him in to our pediatrician. The doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong so he sent us over to the hospital for some x-rays to see if he had pneumonia. Those turned up negative, so they sent us upstairs to have him tested for RSV. I will never forget being hugely pregnant and being asked to hold down my almost 2 year old while they suctioned his nose to test for RSV. The suctioning was traumatizing enough, plus we had the worry that he had RSV with a new baby coming very shortly. Thankfully he did not have RSV, but that was a scary day for me.
We had no worries of my baby being premature by that point, and RSV is scary for full-term babies, but it is life-threatening for premies! I have had several friends who had their babies prematurely and had to deal with the added stress/fear of their baby getting sick with RSV. They had to be so careful during those winter months.
RSV, Respiratory syncytial virus, is common seasonally and is contracted by almost every child by the age of two. Usually it’s just like a cold with a cough, but for premature babies it can root in their lungs and cause damage to their bodies which do not carry enough virus-fighting antibodies.
Parents of premature babies need to be extra-aware and watch out for these symptoms:
- Persistent coughing or wheezing
- Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
- Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
- Fever (especially if it is over 100.4 degrees in infants under 3 months)
- Wash hands and ask others to wash hands
- Keep toys, clothes, blanket & sheets clean
- Avoid crowds and young children
- Never let anyone smoke around your baby
- Stay away from people who are, or who have recently been, sick.