Friday, November 16

November 17th World Prematurity Day

This post is compensated and in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect. 

November 17th is World Prematurity Day, a day dedicated to raise awareness on prematurity, the risks associated with preterm birth and a day to remember parents of preemies.

Preemies (born before 37 weeks gestation) are at an increased risk for serious medical complications and generally require days to months of care in the NICU. This can be extremely difficult on any parent. I personally experienced this as a young mother when Jeremiah was born. He had to be rushed to the NICU hours after being born (full term) due to blood complications and I can still remember how overwhelmed, scared, anxious and powerless I felt.

Seeing your newborn in the NICU can be very emotional. I prayed all the time for Jeremiah to come home and when that time finally came I remember how thankful I was. We were able to leave the NICU after just one week but  seeing all the babies that would have to stay longer due to more severe complications, most from prematurity was very sad.

Prematurity disrupts the development of some of baby's vital organs which includes their immune system and lungs making them more likely to develop infections and more susceptible to respiratory problems.  One virus in particular that parents of preemies should know about is respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV. Most kids will get RSV by the time they are two but usually with minor symptoms similar to a cold. Preemies however will have a more serious respiratory infection with more serious symptoms.

Here are some important things to know about RSV:

RSV Quick Facts
  • RSV is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, and severe RSV disease causes up to 10 times as many infant deaths each year as the flu.
  • RSV is most prevalent during the winter months. The CDC has defined the “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America. 
  • In addition to prematurity, common risk factors include low birth weight, certain lung or heart diseases, a family history of asthma and frequent contact with other children.
Prematurity and RSV in the U.S. Hispanic Community
  • The current rate of preterm births in the U.S. Hispanic community is 11.66 percent. Since 2006, the preterm rate has declined 5 percent for Hispanic infants. 
  • Data indicate that infants from U.S. Hispanic communities are at increased risk to develop severe RSV disease; while the exact reason for the increased risk is unknown, the increased prematurity rate is likely a contributing factor.                                                 
  • Two-thirds of U.S. Hispanic mothers have never heard of RSV, and one in five U.S. Hispanic moms only becomes aware of RSV once their child has contracted the virus. 

Prevention is Key
RSV is very contagious and can be spread easily through touching, sneezing and coughing. Since there’s no treatment for RSV, parents should take the following preventive steps to help protect their child:
  • Wash hands, toys, bedding, and play areas frequently
  • Ensure you, your family, and any visitors in your home wash their hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid large crowds and people who are or have been sick
  • Never let anyone smoke near your baby
  • Speak with your child’s doctor if he or she may be at high risk for RSV, as a preventive therapy may be available
Know the Symptoms
Contact your child’s pediatrician immediately if your child exhibits one or more of the following: 
  • Severe coughing,  wheezing or rapid gasping breaths 
  • Blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails
  • High fever and extreme fatigue

To learn more about RSV, visit and for more about the specialized health needs of preterm infants, visit You can also join the conversation online #WPD2012.

Let's take the time to educate an expecting parent, say a prayer or think good thoughts for families with preemies on November 17th World Prematurity Day.

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