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RSV and your baby

January 17, 2014
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Carolina Kids families around the Triangle are starting to get notes home from daycare letting them know there is RSV in the classroom. So, when should you be worried? RSV stands for respiratory syncitial virus - for most of us old folks (and by old folks, I mean folks over about 2 years old), the RSV virus simply causes a cold that gets better in a week or two on its own. In babies, the virus can cause inflammation of the smallest air passages in the lungs, the bronchioles (which is why we call this condition bronchiolitis). This can lead to significant cough, rapid breathing, and wheezing. It is important to understand that RSV is a very common virus, and almost all kids will be exposed to it in the first couple of years of life. Most babies who get RSV will only get minor cold symptoms, and there is nothing special you need to do that you wouldn't do for any other cold (nasal saline drops, a humdifier at night, and paying special attention to fluid intake). Only a minority of babies will have chest problems and wheezing from RSV - and the younger your baby, the more likely that is to happen. Some babies who wheeze from RSV benefit from the same types of medicines that help asthma - however most babies don't benefit from these, and will do just fine without them. If you have a child under 2 years old who starts wheezing or breathing fast after developing cold symptoms, please do call us and bring your baby in so we can be sure nothing serious is going on. If your baby was born prematurely or has other chronic heart or lung problems, there may be special steps we can take to prevent serious RSV infection. Otherwise, if you hear that there is RSV at daycare, take a deep breath, relax, and know that most likely your baby will be fine and may get some minor cold symptoms. However, if more symptoms develop, we're here to help.

Dr. Nechyba