World Prematurity Day: Understanding RSV and the Risk for Preemies


This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and MedImmune.

November 17 marks World Prematurity Day, a day to raise awareness about premature birth, prevention, and the increased health risks that often come with premature birth. Especially during the cold winter months, preemies are more susceptible to illnesses and infections because they may be born with undeveloped lungs and immature immune systems.

In particular, the common seasonal virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is contracted by nearly all children by the age of two. For full-term babies RSV causes mild to moderate cold symptoms, however, for preterm infants the virus can develop into severe RSV resulting in hospitalization. RSV disease is the leading cause of hospitalization for babies during their first year of life in the United States, with approximately 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 400 infant deaths each year. Despite these alarming figures, RSV many parents are not aware of it. In fact, a recent poll indicated that only one-third of mothers are aware of it.


RSV occurs in epidemics each year, typically from November through March. RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Additionally, the virus can live on the skin and surfaces for hours. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
  • Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Fever [especially if it is over 100.4°F (rectal) in infants under 3 months of age]

There is no treatment for RSV disease once it’s contracted, so prevention is critical.  Here are some things that you can do to help protect your baby during this time:

  • Wash their hands and ask others to do the same
  • Keep toys, clothes, blanket and sheets clean
  • Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season
  • Never let anyone smoke around your baby
  • Steer clear of people who are sick or who have recently been sick

Please share this information along with fellow parents who have infants and help raise awareness about RSV by forwarding this article along. For more information about RSV and prevention, visit