Respiratory issues important to watch in newborns, infants

Respiratory issues important to watch in newborns, infants
Parents of infants may often notice wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing with their little ones as a deadly virus known as RSV tries to take its toll on the unsuspecting child. Within a matter of only a few days, a manifested cold can turn into a scary situation for parents.Once a diagnosis of RSV is made, oxygen and open airways are key for the recovery of an infant who has contracted the virus.
A recent press release issued by Emery University states the number of babies who have tested positive for RSV at Volunteer Community Hospital has reached a 10 percent threshold, which indicates the onset of RSV season.
Dr. Michael Light, head of pediatrics with the University of Miami, offered some insight into RSV, its symptoms and who is at risk for the “highly contagious” virus during a phone interview Friday.
“Babies who are only a few months old require hospitalization if they test positive for RSV,” Light said. The pediatrician noted that babies, especially those born premature, up to two years of age are susceptible to RSV and its symptoms.
“Parents will notice coughing, wheezing and babies that can’t feed because of breathing problems,” Light said. A fever is not considered one of the main symptoms of RSV, according to Light. He advised parents should be more concerned with breathing difficulties and a child not eating or drinking.
“The cough associated with RSV is not a croupy cough. It can sometimes sound congested. RSV is not like pneumonia,” Light noted. He stated that RSV should be treated as a virus in that it is contagious and the best methods of prevention are frequent, thorough hand washing, the use of alcohol wipes and keeping minimal contact with those who have a cold or other virus.
“For children, what we can offer as doctors for those who contract RSV is saline drops in the nasal passages and sucking out the mucus to clear the airways. A child needs enough oxygen and keeping the airways open,” Light said.
The pediatrician advised that the virus sits on bedding and toys and once it comes in contact with a person’s hands, a child is at risk for contracting RSV.
“There is a vaccine that can be administered to babies who are at a high risk for RSV that can be given each month during the season.
Babies who were born premature or who have a heart or lung disease are at an especially high risk during the first few months of life,” he added.
A trip to a child’s pediatrician is in order if the child displays symptoms of RSV including not breathing for more than 10 seconds and wheezing. While the RSV season varies from community to community, statistics demonstrate Northwest Tennessee is now in the peak of its season and it is expected to run through March or April.
WCP 1.24.08

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