Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RSV Awareness post Washing Your Hands & Baby Etiquette Tips People Forget

When my son was born 7 years ago, I had many visitors coming to see us at the hospital.  It was December and in the middle of cold and flu season.  While I loved showing off my new bundle of joy, it was a little awkward to approach the subject of hand washing.  How do you tell your boss or best friend to wash their hands before touching your baby or holding him without offending them?  It is almost like asking them to wash up is akin to an accusation of uncleanliness. How did I handle this subject?  I blamed the nurse.  Yep, I told everyone that the nurse told me that everyone had to wash their hands first before holding him.  It was awkward for me to ask them to wash, but not if the nurse made me do it! 

Wash up before touching baby!
A newborn hasn't yet had the chance to build up immunity to viruses, so it is important to do what you can as parents to limit the exposure of germs that your new baby happens to get throughout the day.  A simple gesture, such as hand washing, can go a long way in preventing a baby from contracting RSV.

What is RSV?  RSV is short for resiratory syncytial virus and it affects most babies by the time they are two years old.  While many babies sail through this virus just fine, some babies don't.  Babies at particular risk include those who are preemies (born prior to 36 weeks gestation). Preemies born early lack the lung development that term babies have, which makes them more at risk for complications due to RSV.  RSV is the main cause of hospitalizations for infants. 

Aside from health risk, there is a financial risk too.  Take a look at the infographic below and you'll see that hospital costs for babies with RSV have a huge price tag.

What everyone can do to help prevent RSV

There are a few things that you can do to help prevent RSV and the first tip I can offer is to wash your hands before you touch or hold a baby.  This is one of the most effective ways to prevent RSV (or any illness, really).  Step up to the plate and relieve someone of the burden of having to ask you to wash your hands by asking where you can wash up.  I would bet that they'll be relieved that they didn't have to ask you to wash your hands.  Remember that germs lurk everywhere:  door knobs, elevator buttons, hard surfaces such as tables... everywhere!  You would wash your hands before eating a meal, so wash your hands before holding a baby.

Secondly, if you feel unwell or have just been around sick people, refrain from popping in for a visit.  It's so important to call ahead before you stop by a new parent's house.  They and the baby could be sleeping or they might be embarrassed by the clutter in the house (this has happened to me!).  If you do stop by, offer to help with the dishes, laundry, dinner preparation, or some other way to pitch in to help keep the household running smoothly while it's in the midst of the chaos a new baby brings.

Finally, if you smoke or have recently been near a smoker for any reason, know that smoke is bad for babies, particularly those at risk for RSV.  Come for a visit smoke free, even if that means you need to grab a shower or change your clothing first.

Be a good guest and wash up and bone up on RSV facts so that the next time your friends or family welcome a bundle of joy into their lives and yours, you'll know what you can do to help baby stay healthy. Understand why visiting may put a young baby at risk and don't be offended if you're asked to refrain from bringing your children along until the baby is a bit older.  Find out more about RSV and it's prevention at RSVProtection.com.

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.
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