As a former healthcare worker at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, UT, I begin to get more and more concerned about cold and flu season as it pertains to babies, as passing on a simple adult cold to an infant could be dangerous, even life-threatening. RSV, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus, is a common virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms for adults, but it is also the most common cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis (inflammation of the lungs) in babies younger than one year. Below are two reasons that babies and toddlers may have a more difficult time fighting off common colds:
1. A newborn is just developing their immune system. This means that a mild infection for an adult can be really damaging on a baby’s immune system, still learning to fight off infections.
2. Infants and small children have smaller airways. Imagine breathing only through a straw for several minutes. It takes a lot of energy for an adult! When babies get sick, their airways can swell, making it more difficult to take a breath (like sucking through a coffee straw). Signs of respiratory difficulty include sucking in between their ribs (retractions), breathing faster, and nose flaring. Mucus is also hard to clear out of an infant’s nose regularly, so when they have an infection, they will require more help suctioning out the mucus so their airways can take in enough air to sustain their little lungs.
Warning Signs of RSV
RSV can even be tough for a baby without medical problems. Although many babies can recover safely, there are some babies who need hospitalization and help breathing. These can include young children who are at a higher risk (like those who were premature as infants), very young infants, and those with chronic lung or heart disease who have potential for severe illness impact. In fact, 58,000 young children are hospitalized in the United Sates every year due to RSV infection.
There is no cure for RSV, nor any vaccine. Disease prevention includes washing hands frequently and having your child avoid sick people. If a baby develops RSV, parents are counseled to increase fluids with their babes, watch their breathing and follow up with medical providers if their baby gets worse.
We need a safe and effective way of preventing this disease for our babies. A vaccine for young children, against RSV, may prevent severe illness and deaths. Vaccines, such as those for polio and meningitis, have decreased and even stopped some of the illnesses that can impact young children, drastically improving the quality of life for millions of children.
I am happy to see more clinical trials for RSV vaccines available within the clinical research industry. Consider enrolling your child in a pivotal trial that could save millions of lives from a common childhood disease.
Visit https://cenexelresearch.com/jbr for more information about the medical research our staff is supporting in SLC, Utah.
Read more about RSV cases spiking early this year.
- Assessment of the Effect of Active Immunisation against Respiratory Syncytial
Virus (RSV) using Decisions-Analytic Models: A Systematic Review with a Focus on Vaccination Strategies, Modelling Methods and Input Data. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40273-020-00991-7
- The Future of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Disease Prevention and Treatment. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7926075