Returning to RSV season

We’re entering into RSV season again.  Most kids get respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) by the age of two (it’s incredibly contagious) and while it’s usually not too serious for a healthy baby, it can be quite threatening to a premature infant and scary for a parent.

In many kids, RSV causes mild cold-like symptoms (coughing, sneezing, runny nose, fever) that go away on their own in about 10 days to two weeks. But it’s also the leading cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in tikes under a year old.  You can read more about RSV and prevention in our previous post.

Because it’s so contagious, many parents of premature babies keep their children out of public circulation throughout the season. That means out of the grocery store, day care, church, shopping malls… That can be really tough on parents.  For those of you with premature babies or with children with compromised (weakened) immune systems due to a medical condition, how do you deal with the isolation?  What tips do you have for new parents who are facing their first RSV season?

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12 Responses to “Returning to RSV season”

  1. Kim Says:

    My son Anthony is now 3. He was born at 26 weeks and was 2lbs 3oz at birth. spent 91 days in the nicu, came home on oxygen. We had to do RSV “house arrest” for 2 years. The first year wasn’t so bad cause he was so little and didn’t need that much entertainment. Rolling around and crawling were enough for him. The second year was a bit harder. I took him on lots of walks around the block in the stroller when the weather wasn’t bad. Went for car rides. But for the most part we were very isolated and spent a lot of the holidays with maybe 1 or 2 people over and we made sure they always washed up. We also made sure to get Anthony his synagist shots every month. It was all very worth it though. Anthony didn’t get his first cold till he was 2 and he did very well with it. He’s had a couple colds since but continues to handle them well. The dr’s always stressed those first two years are critical for preemie’s lungs to repair themselves, and I feel we gave our son a bright and healthy future because of those 2 years of “house arrest”

  2. Robin Says:

    My son caught RSV while on the synagis. We did the shots for two seasons. From the time he came home from the NICU we kept him isolated and stayed away from stores, churches, schools, even family functions. On Christmas we had shifts. My husband took our daughters to his family’s events.. came home and switched. Then I took them to mine. If I got to the point that I just HAD to get out of the house we went for Car rides~! Its rough being home 24/7 but you have to sacrifice for your baby. Being home is so much better than being in the hospital or PICU.

  3. Lindsay Says:

    Kim, I know what you mean by “house arrest.” Glad to hear your vigilance paid off for Anthony and that he handled his cold well.

  4. Melissa Says:

    My Daphne is 19 months, she was born at 27w4d and was in the NICU for five months. She also had a heart defect that was corrected with surgery at 6 months. She was on O2 for the first couple of months at home. We were very strict with her quarantine last winter. We took her nowhere. We went to her grandparents’ home, and to doctors’ appointments. That was IT. It wasn’t so bad because she didn’t know what she was missing. This year is going to be different. We are trying to get her a second season of Synagis, but will continue to avoid unnecessary exposure at places like restaurants, supermarkets, any enclosed spaces. I guess we will take advantage of the park and playgrounds before it gets too cold, and just buckle down the rest of the winter. She has an older sister who brings germs home from pre-school, and has had many colds, but thankfully they stayed away from her lungs.

  5. Sharla Says:

    I still have a pretty content child that will tolerate being home. He’s almost 2 now, but he also has CP and a learning disability, so staying home during the season isn’t so bad for us. He gets more PT! lol Of course, we all know that’s just play time. lol. We get out a lot when the weather’s nice, we take walks around the block and go to the river. It’s hard when you can’t take your child to the store, or public places when you want to, but it’s for the best. I know this b/c I don’t let my son out of my sight. He goes where I go. It’s not fair for them to be “cooped” up, but as parents we only want the best for out kids!

  6. Sacha Says:

    I could use some advice here, most of the responses here say that you have kept them indoors for two seasons, I thought the first season was enough.

  7. Tricia Says:

    My twin boys were born at 27w4d also and were in the NICU for 10 weeks. I’m not looking forward to this first RSV season. We just scheduled their RSV shots. Does it make a difference on whether the little ones were intubated or not? I’m still trying to gauge how paranoid I should be.

  8. Erin Says:

    My son is 9 months old. He was born at 29 w 5 d. He got RSV when he was just under 2 months old and was back in the hospital for a week and a half after only having been home for 2 weeks from his first NICU stay. He had his first synagis shot about 2 weeks prior to getting RSV. This year his pediatrician has said he doesn’t need the Synagis shot since he is over 6 months old. I am obviously very nervous about flu and cold season. What are the recommendations for receiving Synagis and how strict should I be this year on staying home? Thanks for the input.

  9. Lindsay Says:

    Here’s what the CDC says: Special attention should be paid to protecting children who are at high risk for developing severe disease if infected with RSV. Such children include premature infants, children under 2 with chronic lung or heart conditions, and children with weakened immune systems. Ideally, people with cold-like symptoms should not interact with children at high risk for severe disease. But, if this is not possible, they should carefully follow the prevention steps mentioned above, and they should wash their hands before interacting with children at high risk. When possible, limiting the time that high-risk children spend in child-care centers or other potentially contagious settings may also help prevent infection and spread of the virus during the RSV season.

    A drug called palivizumab (Synagis is a brand name) is available to prevent severe RSV illness in certain infants and children who are at high risk. The drug can help prevent development of serious RSV disease, but it cannot help cure or treat children already suffering from serious RSV disease and it cannot prevent infection with RSV. If your child is at high risk for severe RSV disease, talk to your healthcare provider to see if palivizumab can be used as a preventive measure.

    Your provider knows your child’s health history and is the best person to judge whether the shots are needed for him or her.

  10. Kristie McNealy Says:

    My biggest piece of advice is that no matter how much the “house arrest” sucks, being in the hospital is WORSE! Our 31 weeker got RSV 2 weeks after she left the NICU, and was admitted to the hospital for 5 days and on oxygen for 6 weeks after that. It was awful to go back to the hospital, and the RSV did a real number on her lungs. She was on and off oxygen for over a year after her bout with RSV, despite the fact that her lungs weren’t really a problem in the NICU, and she was discharged from the NICU on room air.

  11. Lindsay Says:

    Excellent point, Kristie. Home is so much better than being in the hospital!

  12. aimee Says:

    Well ladies I have a almost 2 yr old that was full term. He got rsv for the 1st at 6 weeks stayed in the picu for 7 days, again @ 6 months 5 days in the picu developed pneumonia another 5 days next rsv season 13 months old 3rd case rsv 7 days in the picu sent home with a neb and inhaler 4th case 18 months old 5 more days comes home 3 days later back in with pneumonia… can’t get the shot because he wasn’t premature so rapidly approaching is rsv season #3