Sponsored by: Synagis
By: Dawn Boylard, Clinical Nurse Specialist
If you’ve never heard of RSV, I hope that you continue reading my story and tell others about this common, yet potentially serious virus. While I’m a neonatal nurse who fights for sick babies every day, I’m especially passionate about raising awareness of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), three letters that forever changed my life.
RSV is a common, seasonal virus that can cause mild symptoms often mimicking the common cold or flu.1 While the virus affects nearly 100 percent of babies before the age of two, premature babies are at increased risk for developing severe RSV disease.2, 3
There are an alarming number of preterm births in the US, with approximately half a million babies born prematurely each year.4 Because preemies are not fully developed at birth, many—even those born just a few weeks early—have unique health needs, often requiring specialized medical attention. For example, preemies have underdeveloped lungs and a lesser amount of antibodies, so they are not as well-equipped as full-term babies to fight off common viruses, such as RSV.5,6
I adopted my son, Tyler, who was born at 31 weeks gestational age, when he was four years old. Tyler was born premature and had multiple additional risk factors for severe RSV disease including young siblings, a crowded living environment and exposure to tobacco smoke (his birth mother smoked). Since Tyler “looked healthy,” he was not prescribed Synagis® (palivizumab), a series of monthly injections, which would help prevent severe RSV disease during the winter season in his first year of life.7 Common side effects of Synagis include fever and rash. Other possible side effects include skin reactions around the area where the shot was given (like redness, swelling, warmth, or discomfort).