Preemie Awareness Day was November 17th. This is an annually recognized day to bring recognition to the staggering rates of prematurity across the country. When I was pregnant, I always skimmed over the sections in pregnancy books about prematurity because I didn’t think it was going to effect me. Little did I know, I would have not one but two preemies. Like me, lots of parents aren’t even aware of the risks and possibilities of prematurity until after their first child.
Today is Thanksgiving and one of the things that I am most thankful for is my wonderful family. Both of my daughters were born prematurely so as I count my Thanksgiving blessings I can’t help but be grateful for them and that they are healthy and thriving today.
I know that not every premature birth results in a happy ending. There are many preemies that aren’t able to celebrate their first Thanksgiving or that are forever scarred with their premature arrival into the world. Prematurity is the leading cause cause of neonatal death. For this, I feel incredibly grateful that neither of my girls had any lasting health problems and that only one of them spent time in the NICU.
As you know, my oldest daughter Cakes, spent 40 days in the NICU while we were living in Colorado and ended up being sent home with a nasal cannula. Despite our excitement of being able to bring Cakes home from the hospital, we were really nervous. Not only because at almost 6 weeks old she was not even 6 pounds yet, but also because she was no longer as protected as she was in the NICU.
Because she was born so early and right in the middle of flu season, we were able to get her approved for shots to help protect her against RSV. RSV is a virus that causes infants and children to become very sick and can even be fatal. The thought of her getting RSV terrified me so we limited visitors, avoided unnecessary outings, and compulsively washed our hands. There was still the possibility that she could get RSV but we were hoping by going out of our way to do these things we could help protect her. And we did and we have, so far.
My youngest daughter, Cupcake, was also born prematurely but at 36 weeks was in much better condition than Cakes at 31 weeks. We were blessed that a NICU stay was not necessary and even though it made me nervous, it was deemed that the shots to help protect against RSV were not necessary for her. Thus far, the only illness that Cakes has had is a cold but to be honest, I still worry and anguish over the thought it could be RSV and hope and pray for signs that it’s not.
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
I know it’s not feasible to take up residence in a bubble but we owe it to our children to do everything in our power to not only educate ourselves on RSV but also to be proactive in educating others.
Make sure you check out last year’s Prematurity Prevention Day post to learn more about how to prevent RSV and the flu.
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.