Born @ 27 weeks
2lbs 7oz

Monday, September 17, 2012

RSV Season... Here We Go!

I got my flu shot yesterday. I feel like I may one of the first in the country. It is so critical for us to do our best to stay healthy this cold and flu season and I am hypersensitive with Nash being in school this year.

While we are no longer in quarantine with Shaw like last year, he continues to suffer for Chronic Lung Disease. He will generate new lung tissue every year until he turns seven; however, the first two years are the most critical (and unfortunately, the most deadly). 

RSV and whooping cough are our biggest concerns. Although, because of Shaw's airway abnormality, we were hospitalized a number of times last winter due to his sensitivity to common colds and inability to kick it like a healthy, full term baby.

I lie awake at night wondering/hoping/praying we have done the right thing by sending Nash to school. His exposure to germs will heighten our awareness and determination to protect Shaw. Once again, we're encouraging all of our family and friends that will be in contact with Shaw over the next few months to please get their flu shots, stay away (even if it's 'just a sinus infection') and wash their hands regularly. It seems dramatic, until you have walked in our shoes. 

I'm attaching a letter from the American Academy of Pediatrics that our doctor has shared with us to give to our family/friends.


Dear Family and Friends,

We’re writing regarding a very important matter: RSV. For those of you who plan to visit us over the next few months, and even if you are not, please take a few minutes to read this letter.

If you are not aware of RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, you are among the majority. Most people have not heard of RSV, even though nearly every child has had the virus by age two. For full-term babies, RSV typically is not any worse than a common cold, but for preemies, the virus can be quite different. Babies born earlier than 36 weeks are at the highest risk for serious complications like pneumonia, bronchi- olitis, and other sometimes fatal complications. Our baby was born premature and had low birth weight; these are among the highest risk factors for contracting RSV and devel-oping serious complications. This website offers a great visual comparison of a preemie’s lungs compared to the lungs of a full- term baby:

Preventing the spread of RSV is very difficult. Thus, we must be vigilant about keeping our children safe during RSV season (October through April). The virus is spread through physical contact, in the air via a cough or sneeze, or by touching an infected object. The virus can live as long as six hours on hands and up to twelve hours on objects, and it spreads very easily, especially from child to child. Studies have also shown that infants pose an even higher risk of spreading RSV to others.

You may ask, “Can’t they fight it off and build up their immune system? Children need to get sick, right?” The simple answer is NO. Since our babies were pre-term, they did not acquire the nec-essary immunities to fight off infection. If they contract RSV, they could be hospitalized and develop serious complications.

We’ll be asking our visitors to follow a few guidelines to help prevent the babies from contracting RSV or any other illness.

We ask that all visitors do the following:
1. When you arrive, please wash your hands and use hand-sanitizer as needed before touching the babies.
2. Please, if it is possible, get a flu shot.
3. Please refrain from coming over if you are currently sick and have not been symptom-free for at least 5 days, if you live with someone who is sick, or have been in close contact with someone who is sick.
4. If you smoke, we ask that you change your clothing and refrain from smoking prior to visiting, as a preemie’s lungs are very sensitive to smoke. Most RSV sites recommend against passive smoke exposure.
5.If you are parents to a baby or toddler, please refrain from bringing them to our house during RSV season.
Unfortunately we will not be attending many events during RSV season. Our goal is to make it through this and the next RSV seasons without the babies contracting RSV or any other serious ill-ness. Their lungs are still very fragile until they are 2 years old.

Please understand that this letter is not meant to offend anyone, just simply to provide an explanation. We hope you understand, and we appreciate your help keeping our babies safe.

We are also providing several resources with additional information about RSV below.


Finally, PreemieWorld has launched a special petition asking the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to change its guidelines so that all premature babies have a chance at getting the drug Synagis during RSV season.  As it stands, AAP changed its guidelines in 2009 which has resulted in many babies being denied this life-saving benefit causing hospitalizations, serious life-long health challenges post-hospital and even death.  We need your help now and that of your friends and family and social networks.  Use this link: 

Thank you.
Team Richter

No comments: