Respiratory syncytial virus season: Protect your kids

Each year, pediatricians and hospital pediatric units brace themselves for RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) season, when many babies contract RSV and may become seriously ill from this common respiratory infection. Parents of at-risk newborns need to be aware that protection from this potentially harmful virus is available and they should call their doctor for more information.

RSV is a common cause of lower respiratory infections in premature infants. Half of all children develop an RSV infection by the age of one year; by age two, virtually all children have had RSV. For most otherwise healthy children, RSV usually amounts to little more than a cold. However, for at-risk infants, such as infants born prematurely and children under the age of two suffering from chronic lung conditions, the health consequences can be much more serious.

A little known fact is that up to 125,000 children under the age of one year are hospitalized annually due to RSV-related illnesses and up to 2 percent of these children may die. The cost of treating a child hospitalized for RSV-related illnesses can be over $70,000. This is why it is of the utmost importance that parents take steps to protect their premature babies from RSV.

"RSV is a common infection and is a frequent cause of childhood hospitalization and intensive care unit admissions. In premature babies and infants with lung disease, the virus can produce severe and lasting complications that may place the child's life at risk. Many parents are not aware that their babies are at-risk for RSV, so education about this disease is extremely important. Parents should talk with their pediatrician about ways to help prevent and protect their babies from RSV" said Dr. Stephen A. Chartrand, Professor and Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Director, Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease at the Creighton University School of Medicine.

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