A mother whose son was diagnosed with a dangerous respiratory virus is urging parents to avoid kissing newborns.
Kelli Beachner took to Facebook to warn parents of the risks of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common infection that affects most children within the first two years of life, but can be particularly dangerous for infants.
Before Beachner’s son Colton was born, she and her husband Dalton had agreed on a strict “no-kissing” policy out of fear that their newborn could contract a virus too dangerous for his immune system.
Although the parents thought they had made their policy known, Beachner believes a simple kiss to the newborn is responsible for his testing positive for RSV when he was just six days old.
“I walked up to him when he was napping and found his top lip was blue and that he wasn’t responding,” Beachner shared in a lengthy message to her friends and family on Facebook. “I picked him up so fast that it startled him and he thankfully started crying.”
The new parents took their son to hospital where they were informed the newborn had contracted RSV, an infection that can cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) RSV in children under six months of age typically require hospitalization due to impaired breathing and dehydration.
Like the flu, peak RSV season occurs between November and April and can spread through particles making contact with your eyes, nose or mouth from an infected person coughing or sneezing, and through direct contact such as kissing a child on the face.
“I didn’t sleep for a minute that night,” Beachner said. “I don’t even think I blinked as I stared at him all night praying that he had the strength, while we sat in the bathroom with steam from a hot shower to help him breathe.”
As per doctor’s orders, Colton was taken the next day to Children’s Mercy Respiratory Clinic in Kansas City, Mo. Immediately upon arrival he was rushed by ambulance to another location due to low oxygen saturation.
“Doctors were already prepping him for the incubator before I even could comprehend what was said,” she wrote. “We had to watch our son be hooked to a machine to get the oxygen his little body needed.”
In addition to RSV, Colton was diagnosed with bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways of the lungs) and spent seven days on oxygen.
“He pushed through,” Beachner said. “But many don’t.”
Due to his bout with RSV, Colton’s chances of developing respiratory illnesses has increased. Although still an infant, doctors have already speculated that he may have asthma in the future.
People with the flu-like symptoms (runny nose, fever, sneezing, coughing) are encouraged to frequently wash their hands with soap and water, avoid sharing utensils and beverages and steer clear others with others, especially young children.
Even if flu-like symptoms subside, RSV is usually contagious for up to eight days. However, the CDC notes that young children can still spread the infection for as long as four weeks. Many children are exposed to RSV at school and in daycare centres, which they can then bring into the home. Disinfecting hard surfaces such as crib rails, changing tables and toys can help prevent the spread of RSV, since infection can live on hard surfaces for many hours.
“Don’t be that person,” Beachner said. “Don’t be the reason a mom and dad have to prepare for the worst. Don’t put your want to see/kiss the baby before the well being of that precious baby. And don’t guilt trip new parents if they wish to protect their baby a little extra. Your love from a distance is still felt, I promise.”