Flu season typically falls sometime between the start of fall and the end of spring. For the past three decades, flu activity has peaked at some point between the months of October and February but always tapers off by April.
As a new mom as of August, I knew I was welcoming my baby girl near the onset of “sick season.” Needless to say, I was stressed. However, once the stress of having a new baby and managing everything else set in, the fear drifted to the background.
Then it started.
Social media right now is an OVERWHELMING slew of children who are sick. Some are the common cold and stomach virus — which is scary enough for a small infant to catch — but the large amount of Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) effecting little babies this year is more than scary. Add in the amount of small babies with other complications such as stomach infections, pneumonia and more — it makes me want to not even leave the house.
But, that’s not a realistic possibility — so here is what I, as well as every other parent out there is asking you, please don’t kiss our babies.
Sure, they are sweet, lovable and so cute — and that leads to them being oh so kissable — but refrain. A simple little peck can be deadly.
RSV can be dangerous for some infants and young children. Each year in the United States, an estimated 57,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized due to RSV infection according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those at greatest risk for severe illness from RSV include:
n Premature infants
n Very young infants, especially those 6 months and younger
n Children younger than 2-years-old with chronic lung disease
n Children younger than 2-years-old with chronic heart disease
n Children with weakened immune systems
n Children who have neuromuscular disorders, including those who have difficulty swallowing or clearing mucus secretions
It’s true that virtually all children get an RSV infection by the time they are 2-years-old. Most of the time RSV will cause a mild, cold-like illness, however it can also cause severe illness such as Bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and Pneumonia (infection of the lungs).
The CDC states that one to two out of every 100 children younger than 6 months of age with RSV infection may need to be hospitalized. Those who are hospitalized may require oxygen, intubation, and/or mechanical ventilation (help with breathing). Most improve with this type of supportive care and are discharged in a few days.
But some are not. Some don’t make it back home with their families.
Other risk factors include HSV from cold sores, E. Coli from poor hand washing and other sicknesses. Though they may seem like small illnesses for adults, a small child cannot fight them off and can become very ill and even die.
So remember this holiday season, if there is a new baby in your family — celebrate and cherish that new life, but refrain from kissing those adorable, chunky cheeks. When a parent asks you not to kiss their babies or to wash your hands — just agree and do it. Though you may mean well, a simple mistake or little kiss could mean life and death.