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What is RSV? Know the Facts.

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for MedImmune. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.


Do you remember bringing home your first baby? The photo above is two-day-old Emma, and I remember how tiny and fragile she seemed – and that was as a full-term (two days late, technically) baby! World Prematurity Day is this month, on November 17th, and today I’m writing (for the third year on this blog) about RSV (Respiratory Syncytical Virus). All babies are susceptible to RSV, but that is particularly dangerous to children born prematurely since they have underdeveloped lungs and immature immune systems.

Preterm infants are twice as likely as full-term babies to be admitted to the hospital for RSV-related symptoms, but it this disease can be serious even for full-term babies. One of our friends’ full-term babies was hospitalized for two weeks with RSV. It’s frightening that a virus that is easily carried by people who don’t think they are particularly sick can make a perfectly healthy, full-term child sick enough that they are fighting for their life. Fortunately, our friends’ baby pulled through and is perfectly healthy today, but RSV is responsible for up to 200 deaths each year, and I know that a lot of babies who have RSV go on to suffer further respiratory problems as they grow older.

Respiratory Syncytical Virus is the #1 cause of hospitalization for babies under one year, with around 125,000 babies hospitalized in the US each year. Nearly all children have had RSV by the time they turn two years old. Even though this virus is incredibly common, about one-third of mothers have never heard of RSV. I’m trying to change that!

Here are some simple things you can do to protect your child from RSV:

  • Never let anyone smoke around your baby.
  • Understand the risk factors and talk to your child’s pediatrician if you think they may be at increased risk.
  • Wash your hands, and your child’s hands, and ask others who are around your child to do the same. Don’t feel bad about asking guests and children to wash hands!
  • Keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean.
  • Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season.
  • Stay away from people who are sick or who have recently been sick.

Early diagnosis is important! Here are some signs and symptoms of RSV disease; call your child’s pediatrician immediately if they show any of these signs and symptoms of RSV disease:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Bluish color around the mother or fingernails
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Fever (especially over 100.4 Fahrenheit [rectal] in infants under three months old)

Here’s a nice infographic that sums it all up – you can click on the image for a  printable pdf file.


I hope you and your family have a healthy winter!

Do you have a personal experience with RSV? What do you think parents need to know?

MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

8 thoughts on “What is RSV? Know the Facts.”

  1. Elisa | blissfulE

    This is part of the reason I have a babymoon – no need to expose brand new babies to unnecessary germs.

  2. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    Great information. I bet this is what my daughter has right now, but she is 8, so I am not overly concerned. Mostly treating it by rest and fluids at the moment.

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