Way to Grow!

The ABCs of RSV

By Erica Pelletier, MD


Help your baby avoid RSV

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is spread from contaminated hands, mouths, surfaces and objects. So use good infection-control practices – including frequent hand washing and keeping personal items like cups, utensils, pacifiers and bottles away from others.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common cause of serious respiratory infections in babies. The illness is most common in the winter and spring months and in babies older than 4 to 6 weeks of age. Babies born prematurely and/or with chronic lung conditions are particularly susceptible to RSV.

RSV is a serious illness for little babies. Infection with the virus can lead to severe respiratory illness and pneumonia. It may also be related to development of asthma later in childhood.

Symptoms of RSV may include runny nose, apnea (when a baby stops breathing briefly during sleep), listlessness, fever, poor feeding, wheezing, rapid breathing and coughing. It’s important to call your pediatrician if these symptoms develop.

Babies without a severe case of RSV may be treated at home. Those who need to be hospitalized are often treated with supportive care, meaning they are kept as comfortable as possible. Treatments may include supplemental oxygen, intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, tube feedings if the baby has difficulty sucking and bronchodilator medications to open the airways. Because a virus causes RSV, antibiotics are not useful.

Dr. Pelletier practices with CHKD Health System’s Suffolk Pediatrics.