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RSV and Keeping Kids Healthy

Learn about RSV, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and how to keep your babies safe.

RSV Infographic

I’ve been thinking a lot about keeping my family healthy lately! January brought a stomach bug and strep throat to our house – it’s just that time of year. I wrote about RSV before, and I’m talking about it again because it’s a topic that I really want to raise awareness of.

What is RSV?

What You'll Find on This Page

In most people, Respiratory syncytial virus looks like the common cold, but for babies it gets dangerous quickly, leading to over 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths every year. Two years ago, I watched a friend’s baby spend two weeks in the hospital fighting this virus, and earlier this month it made my four-month-old nephew very sick. He escaped the hospital, but only through aggressive medication. Nearly every child will have RSV by the time they turn two years old, but only 1/3 of moms say they have heard of this virus.

RSV Symptoms

Here are some symptoms of RSV that parents should watch for:

  • Coughing or wheezing that does not stop
  • Fast, difficult, or gasping breathing
  • blue-tinted lips, mouth, or under fingernails
  • Fever

How to Prevent RSV

There isn’t a treatment that specifically targets RSV, but there are things you can do to prevent it – things that will keep your entire family healthier:

  • Wash hands frequently
  • Wash toys, clothes, and bedding often
  • Keep babies away from crowds and people who are sick
  • Keep children who are sick home whenever possible

We follow these tips, and – even though we have had a couple illnesses at home this month, so far we have escaped the entire family getting sick every time. I give my kids hand sanitizer as they get in the car after school – we wash hands at home, but this keeps some germs from reaching my house in the first place. We also run a humidifier in the house, and emphasize hand-washing.

You can learn more about RSV by visiting the RSV Protection site. What are your best tips for keeping healthy all year round?

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.

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MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

19 thoughts on “RSV and Keeping Kids Healthy”

  1. Ugh, we’re all sick here at our household, although thankfully me and my three year old are on the tail end of it. He just started school so I’m guessing he’s building up some sort of immunity initiation that he’s never had to deal with. Then, with me and my pregnancy, I’m not exactly the most immune right now either.

    I try to be cognizant about touching my eyes, nose and mouth. It’s so hard though, but I figure I have to kill the habits that get the germs in.

    1. Great tip about avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth! I was listening to NPR a few days ago, and they had a flu expert who said that people frequently get the flu from touching their noses after touching something contaminated with the virus.

  2. My son was in the hospital at the age of 8 months due to RSV. He probably picked it up at daycare. Scariest time of my life. Thank you for sharing this information. Symptoms should not be ignored and prescribed treatment must be followed diligently.

  3. Good tips–for us hand washing is the biggest thing. We’re also working on “catching” sneezes in the crook of our elbow. We’re also lucky that I can stay home, so we can avoid high germ places lots of times!

  4. Elisa | blissfulE

    We are so blessed to be healthy in my family. I can count on my fingers the total number of times my kids have been sick, from sniffles to croup. Homebirth, a babymoon where we don’t have visitors for the first five weeks, extended breastfeeding, and avoiding sugar are my favourite ways to keep my kids healthy. I also selectively vaccinate – and late if at all. At the same time, I believe that getting dirty and being exposed to germs early are important for their developing immune systems.

  5. Your last post about RSV was the first time I heard about it. We have had a lot of illnesses running around our house recently too – malaria is a big threat here so sleeping under nets is most important to us.

  6. RSV can get nasty! I am sorry January was a sick month in your house. Anna missed 2 days of school too fighting colds. I can’t wait for this flu season to be over.

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