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Keep Your Preemie Healthy During Prematurity Awareness Month

Every parent wants to keep their newborn healthy, but parents of premature infants may experience a greater challenge protecting their high-risk babies from seasonal illnesses.

November is Prematurity Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness of the high rates of prematurity in the US and educate all parents about the health risks often associated with premature births.

Premature infants often have underdeveloped lungs and fewer antibodies, as they were not able to fully develop in their mother’s womb. As such, premature infants are at significantly increased risk for developing severe infections. For example, premature infants less than 36 weeks gestational age are approximately twice as likely as full-term infants to be admitted to the hospital for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), or RSV-related symptoms.

RSV is a common, seasonal virus contracted by nearly 100 percent of infants by the age of 2. RSV typically circulates from November through March, and causes mild to moderate cold-like symptoms in healthy, full-term babies, but can develop into severe RSV disease in high-risk infants. RSV is the leading cause of hospitalization for infants during their first year of life, resulting in approximately 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 200 infant deaths each year in the US.

Keep Your Preemie Healthy

There is no treatment for RSV disease once it’s contracted, making it necessary for parents to know prevention methods to protect their children, including:

  • Keep Your Preemie HealthyWash your hands and ask others to do the same
  • Keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean
  • Avoid crowds and other young children who may be sick during RSV season
  • Ask your child’s pediatrician if he or she may be at high risk and ways to protect your high-risk baby

Keep Your Preemie Healthy

Potential signs of severe RSV disease that parents should not ignore include:

  • Coughing or wheezing that does not stop
  • Fast or troubled breathing
  • Spread-out nostrils and/or a caved-in chest when trying to breathe
  • Bluish color around the mouth or fingernails
  • Fever (especially if it is over 100.4°F [rectal] in infants under 3 months of age)

Keep Your Preemie Healthy

Dr. Paul Checchia, Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital and Jennifer Degl, a mother of a premature daughter, joined me recently to share important information about prematurity and RSV to help educate all parents of premature infants.

Keep Your Preemie Healthy

Take a look at our talk below.



For more information about prematurity and RSV, as well as useful resources, visit: www.rsvprotection.com

Keep Your Preemie Healthy


Meet Our Guests:


image005Paul Checchia, M.D., serves as Medical Director of the Pediatric Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Additionally, he is Professor of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He specializes in critical care of children with heart disease.

Dr. Checchia has extensive experience with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in various clinical, research and academic settings. He has served as the principal investigator on multiple studies regarding RSV and his knowledge of the virus is captured in numerous textbooks and original manuscripts. Dr. Checchia has been a featured lecturer on the topic at various medical conferences and academic institutions over the past several years. Additionally, he organized many Continuing Medical Education Conferences on the topic, including “Global Approaches to RSV and RSV Immunoprophylaxis,” “RSV Prevention, Treatment and Consequences,” “Global Implications of Current Guidelines on Patient Identification and Risk Factor Assessment in Severe RSV Disease” and the formation of the Missouri RSV Advisory Board.

Keep Your Preemie Healthy

image002Jennifer Degl is a high school science teacher and mother of four children. Jennifer’s youngest child, Joy, was born at 23 weeks, weighing only 1 lb. and 4 oz. Following her birth, Jennifer authored the book titled, From Hope to Joy: A Memoir of a Mother’s Determination and Her Micro Preemie’s Struggle to Beat the Odds. Jennifer and her husband, John, currently live in Mahopac, NY.

Keep Your Preemie Healthy

Wife. Mom. Believer. Writer. Advocate.

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