Q&A: My infant has RSV. What does this mean for her future health?
My infant has RSV. Will this have a lasting effect on his lung health? What should I know to ensure we keep him as healthy as possible?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a virus that causes colds and infections of the lower respiratory tract and can lead to pneumonia and bronchiolitis in children. It is especially common to cause these problems in children less than one year of age.
Babies who are born prematurely are more susceptible to RSV, as are those with weakened immune systems. RSV is spread through contact, both through the air with droplets and from surfaces, such as cups and utensils. It is highly contagious and is most commonly found to occur in the fall, winter, and early spring. Children with RSV usually present with symptoms including runny nose, sneezing, and cough. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of children will develop symptoms of pneumonia or bronchiolitis. Of these children, between .5 percent and 2 percent will require hospitalization. These children may be treated with oxygen, or additional assistance with breathing. There are some medications that may help as well. RSV can often lead to problems with asthma or other respiratory issues later in life.
A few things to keep in mind when trying to keep your baby healthy:
- Always practice good hand washing when you or others are handling your baby.
- Avoid those who have colds or other respiratory symptoms.
- Avoid areas with large crowds.
- Breastfeed if you can to strengthen his immune system.
- Do not expose your child to second-hand smoke.
- Make sure to always cover your mouth or nose while sneezing or coughing.
- Avoid sharing bottles, cups, toys, pacifiers.
- Wipe surfaces often, including faucets and door handles.
- Contact your pediatrician if you think your baby is sick