Tag Archive | cold and flu

2 Months Adjusted

Today marks two months after my original due date, August 6. Little Miss Minion is 2 months adjusted today, and she has learned so many new things since 1 month adjusted. She smiles on her own at Mr Minion and I. She smiles when we smile at her. She grasps toys, bats at the hanging toys on her play gym, and laughs. She rolled over twice yesterday–very impressive. And she will sit almost unsupported, just with light support around her waist. She weighed 9 pounds 7 ounces a couple of weeks ago at her last pediatrician appointment, so I am sure that she is into double digits by now. She’s outgrowing some of her newborn outfits (mostly onesies), and is into 0-3 months now. She’s still taking about the same amount of milk-right around 100-110 mls, which is 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 ounces. She’s starting to finish them completely, so we’ll probably bump her up to 120 mls, or 4 ounces, in the next couple of weeks.

Our other big milestone this month (besides her 5 month birthday on the 14th) is her first Synagis injection. Synagis is a shot that is given to at-risk babies to help reduce the severity of RSV, should they acquire it. You can read more about it HERE. She qualifies based on her birth weight and will get one shot every month for five months. What’s the big deal, you might ask. All babies get sick, after all. How else will they build their immune systems? The reason is simple. Preemies didn’t get the chance to build their immune systems in utero and therefore are much more likely to get sick than full term babies. Preemies (or any baby born before about 37 weeks) will have underdeveloped lungs. A baby born at 40 weeks had 3 full months of extra time to soak up antibodies than Little Miss Minion did. It is of vital importance that she gets the chance to build her immune system without the challange of being sick. Below are some images that might help you to picture the differences.

Keep in mind with the Lung Capacity image that the smaller set of lungs is representative of a baby born at 34 weeks. This is 6 weeks older than Little Miss Minion was at her birth. Preemies who get sick with RSV can end up in the hospital and can require ventilators, or breathing machines. Their airways are too narrow, and with the inflammation of something like the cold, flu, or RSV, they quickly become unable to breathe on their own. I’ve seen Little Miss Minion on a ventilator and it is not something I care to experience again.

My final word on isolation (for today, at least) is this letter, written by the parents of a 23-weeker. I’ve copied the first part of the text below, but http://anearlystartblog.com/2014/01/07/isolation-isnt-about-you/ is the link to the full version of the original letter and website. Many, many thanks to Andrea M for allowing me to link it here.

Dear Extended Family,

Isolation isn’t about you. Let me explain…

Babies who are born prematurely are different than full-term babies. First, premature babies have under-developed lungs and often require life-support and breathing tubes for days, weeks and even months. An important goal for every premature baby is to breathe on their own. Unfortunately for some preemies this doesn’t happen. Some preemies come home on oxygen support or on a ventilator. Their tiny lungs are not capable of keeping them alive without the help of a machine.

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Happy Cold & Flu Season!

October 1st is the unofficial start of cold and flu season. For Preemie families, this marks the start of the most anxiety-ridden part of the year. Since preemies have underdeveloped lungs when they are born, and since they are generally lacking in antibodies, they are very susceptible to any kind of illness or infection. Further, their airways are generally narrower than full term babies, making them more likely to have breathing problems as a result of illness. 

Isolation is the best medicine for cold and flu (and soon, RSV) season. No exposure means no germs. People have told me that she needs to have SOME exposure in order to build her immune system, and that we can’t keep her in the bubble forever. These would both be true, if she was full term. She needs to have time to build up her immune system through antibodies in breastmilk. She needs to have time for her lungs to continue to develop. She needs time to get bigger and stronger. She needs the bubble because she can’t fight things off quite yet. 

Her Synagis shot (to help prevent severe RSV) should be coming at the end of this month. She’ll get this shot once a month for 5 months. Most babies get RSV by age 2, and build immunity quickly. It’s usually just a case of sniffles, maybe a cough. For a preemie, RSV can easily require hospitalization, supplemental oxygen, even a respirator. Adults can be carriers and feel perfectly fine. RSV is one reason the isolation is so important. 

My public service announcement: get your flu shot. Not only will you be protecting yourself, you’ll be protecting vulnerable populations (like babies) who can’t get the vaccine yet, but who are at highest risk of complications.