RSV, and what you need to know to keep little ones safe

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Before my first child was born I taught four year old preschool classes at an academic preschool.  In one of my classes I had two beautiful, smart, sweet little girls.  These girls, twins, were born almost 3 months premature.  You could tell by watching them that they’d come through a lot of challenges as a result of their premature birth.  Sometime during the winter that I was their teacher the girls began missing school.  After they’d been gone for 4 classes (2 weeks) I called their mom to see what was wrong.  She told me that both of the girls were in Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City (an hour from where they lived).  They had RSV.  One of the girls was doing well and would come home soon, but the other, who was the smaller and more delicate of the two, would have to be on oxygen for another few weeks at least. It was another month after that til she was well enough to come back to school.

For children over the age of 2 RSV, or  respiratory syncytial virus, isn’t often a serious illness.  In older children RSV often runs it’s course with mild symptoms similar to a cold or flu, but for young babies, and those with certain lung conditions, RSV can be a very dangerous illness.

Dangers of RSV include:

  • Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
  • Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
  • There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child (e.g., wash hands, toys, bedding frequently; avoid crowds and cigarette smoke).
  • Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV, and discuss preventive measures.
  • Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.

We are now nearing the end of “RSV season” but that doesn’t mean the risk to new babies is entirely gone.  We still need to be vigilant in order to protect our little ones against this potentially dangerous illness.  Here are a few tips to help keep little ones safe this RSV season:

  • Call before you visit. New parents need time to set up a routine and bond. By giving them time to do so before you visit, you are respecting the new family.
  • Postpone a visit if you feel that you may be getting sick, have recently been ill or exposed to illness.
  • Remember that parents know best. If you feel they are being overprotective or overly cautious, just consider that only they know what’s best for the health of their new son or daughter.
  • Offer to do something to ease their responsibilities as they spend time as a family, such as laundry, cooking or dishes. Sleep-deprived moms and dads will appreciate your help!

If you do schedule a visit with a new baby:

  • Wash your hands frequently—upon entering the home and especially prior to holding the baby. Parents, and the new baby, will appreciate it.
  • Leave toddlers at home, especially during the winter months. Young children, especially if they attend day care or preschool, often carry germs and viruses, like RSV, that are easily spread.


Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. So true! It is also super important to understand what role breast feeding can play in preventing the severity of RSV. The nursing mom starts to produce antibodies only 3 hours after she is first exposed to it and those antibodies go directly into her milk. That being said I have know many a mom who breast feeds and their little one gets RSV, but it does frequently limit the severity and speeds the recovery time.