Nov 20, 2012

MedImmune RSV and Preemie Awareness

November 17th is preemie awareness day. Each year 13 million babies are born worldwide, and despite these numbers many parents are unaware of prematurity. And 75% of parents don't know the definition of prematurity-being born before 37 weeks. With those facts it is not surprising that so many people are unaware of the risks that come from having a preemie.

When I was pregnant with my twins, the doctors warned me that multiple births increased my risk of a premature delivery. I was doing fine and my doctor gave me a less than 5% chance of delivering before 34 weeks. That's pretty funny since I gave birth two days later at 30 weeks via an emergency c-section. I never went into labor, the little trouble makers wrapped their cords around their necks and deprived themselves of oxygen.

Being the mother of two preemies, I fully understand the risks associated with premature babies. I think the biggest misconception that people have is that being premature isn't a big deal anymore since our medicine has advanced so much in recent years. And while it is true that premature babies are surviving at higher rates, it is still a very dangerous situation. Being born premature is still the leading cause of neonatal deaths. A fact that I came very close to understanding one night when the NICU called us at 1am telling us to come to the hospital since they didn't think Molly would live through the night. We were very lucky and she made it, but it was a terrifying few days while we waited for tests results.

My sweet Molly that terrifying night.

Once you finally get to take your babies home from the NICU, the risks associated with having a preemie does not end. And that is the second misconception, that a baby at home is perfectly healthy. Unfortunately the risks don't end when your babies are discharged from the hospital. One of the biggest risks for preemies is RSV. In a healthy adult or child, RSV is similar to a cold. But in a preemie, RSV can be fatal. To prevent my twins from getting RSV, they got a monthly immunization during RSV season. Normally the RSV season is from November to March, but the year they were born it went into April.

Having two tiny babies born at the beginning of RSV season was very scary when we went out into public. Everyone wanted to see the babies and having twins and a 1 year old really attracts people's attention! I learned to ask people to not touch them since their health was fragile. I never had a person act nasty or not understand once I said that it was for health reasons. That's my tip for all preemie moms, just explain why and people will understand.

In my opinion, the best way to prevent your child from getting RSV is to get the immunization. While it's still important to wash hands and sanitize toys, getting the shot is so important. It was a total pain taking these babies to a lung doctor way across town just to get a shot, but their health and safety was much more important. I'm so thankful that my twins were protected and that they never got RSV.
We made it through the RSV season!

Here are some quick facts about RSV.

RSV Quick Facts

·         RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, and severe RSV disease causes up to 10 times as many infant deaths each year as the flu.
·         RSV is most prevalent during the winter months. The CDC has defined the “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for 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

RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Since there’s no treatment for RSV, parents should take the following preventive steps to help protect their child:

·         Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
·         Ensure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand    sanitizer
·        Avoid large crowds and people who are or have been sick
·        Never let anyone smoke near your baby
·        Speak with your child’s doctor if he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available

Know the Symptoms

Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following:

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

To learn more about RSV, visit and for more about the specialized health needs of preterm infants, visit

And as I write this 5 days before my twins' third birthday, I'm happy to say that my twins are doing great. Our premature birth had a happy ending but if I could go back and change things I would tell those trouble makers to keep their cords where they belong so I could keep those babies inside longer.

Disclaimer- I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog. Our 1 year old twin boys were born at 27 1/2 weeks and people thought the same thing when we took them home as well. All these people would want to come visit and what was worse is they would come sick. I am following you now. :)


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