RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)- Newborns Are At Greatest Risk
RSV is a leading cause of cold and cough symptoms for newborns, and for the premature infant, this viral infection can lead to viral pneumonia and hypoxia (lack of oxygen), resulting in hospitalization.
Bronchiolitis, the illness caused by RSV in infants, is something to be avoided. We know that infants who have RSV bronchiolitis are almost twice as likely to have asthma as those that don’t. This lung infection seems to leave some damage such that many babies who have had RSV as infants seem to get it again with each cold of the subsequent year. This is such an important infection to avoid, and for older children and adults it just looks like the common cold, that I recommend parents of newborns avoid indoor crowds in the winter (December to May) when RSV is most prevalent.
Have family and friends visit when well, especially during these winter months. The virus is spread through air born droplets so a simple sneeze or cough in the same room as your newborn may be all it takes. For those who do visit your newborn, have them wash their hands before picking up the baby and have them avoid kissing the baby on the face. It is due to the potential seriousness of this virus, that I encourage families who have the choice to wait on air travel the first year of life and avoid the December to May months if at all possible. Air in planes recirculates so it is a guarantee that you will get exposed during these months if on a plane.