RSV in preterm and high risk infants
We deeply care about the lung health of our preterm born infants! Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) should be taken as a serious disease with potentially long-term consequences for the children and their parents and families. Therefore, it is important to inform parents at an early stage about the risks of RSV and keep them involved in every decision.
RSV Information: About the virus and its impact on the very smallest and medically fragile
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a virus that causes infections of the lungs and airways. It commonly appears during the coldest and wettest months of the year, similarly to the influenza virus. In adults and older children the symptoms are commonly mild, with cold-like symptoms such as rhinitis or coughing.
However, if more vulnerable patients – such as preterm infants or those with heart disease or lung disease – are infected with the virus, they may develop a severe lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia. These complications often lead to hospitalisation or admission to the neonatal intensive care unit, and sometimes mechanical ventilation. In particular, preterm infants and infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia and haemodynamically significant congenital heart disease are at increased risk of severe RSV infections. If they get an infection, they tend to get sicker than most children do and may need to stay at the hospital for treatment.
RSV is one of the leading causes of childhood hospitalisation and therefore one of the focus topics of EFCNI. If you want to join us to raise awareness for this common yet often unknown or underestimated lung disease, please support our campaign “#LittleLungs – Help protect babies from RSV ” and download and share our materials on your social media channels and website!
If you would like to get a quick overview of RSV, download our compact factsheet! It provides easy-to-understand information on RSV at a glance. Here you can learn for example…
- which group of children is at risk for a more severe RSV infection?
- what are the most important risk factors?
- how is the virus transmitted?
- what simple hygiene rules can largely reduce the risk of infection?
Special thanks go to Professor Luc Zimmermann for his support and advice in the preparation of this factsheet.
RSV Awareness: #LittleLungs social media campaign
Our #LittleLungs social media campaign is designed to raise awareness of RSV and to educate parents and healthcare providers about the signs and symptoms of this challenging condition and available preventative options. How can YOU support RSV awareness? You can help spread the word about RSV by downloading our RSV campaign material and sharing it on your social media platforms, your blog or website. Please remember to tag us @efcni (Facebook/Instagram) and @EFCNIwecare (Twitter), and use the hashtags #LittleLungs and #RSV in your social media posts to help us find and like your posts!
Please find further language versions of our #LittleLungs social media graphics below:
Interview: Professor Luc Zimmermann on RSV in preterm babies
Prof Luc J. I. Zimmermann is Professor of Paediatrics and Neonatology at Maastricht UMC+ in the Netherlands and Medical Director of EFCNI.
In this interview he explains:
- How a typical course of infection with RSV looks like
- Why preterm and ill babies are more at risk for serious complications from RSV infections
- How important hygiene measures are to prevent an infection
- In what cases the administration of a prophylactic drug makes sense
Position Paper: “RSV in preterm and ill infants”
An expert roundtable was the starting point for the creation of the RSV position paper: On the initiative of EFCNI, a high-ranking panel of medical and patient experts met in Munich in October 2018 to discuss the challenges of RSV-related infections in preterm and ill infants in different countries, and the measures that are taken on a national level to improve the infection and hospitalisation rates.
After a day of fruitful discussions, the key points for improvement were identified and agreed . The position paper was developed and finalised in August 2019 and officially launched at the 3rd Congress of joint European Neonatal Societies (jENS) in Maastricht in September 2019. One year later, in December 2020, an updated version with an extended list of prophylaxis guidelines from 33 countries was published again.
You can have a look at the experts’ common call to advocate for preventive measures to reduce the number of RSV infections:
So far, there is neither a vaccination nor a curative treatment available . The most effective method to prevent RSV infections in infants and young children are simple hygiene and behavioural measures. In addition, in some cases, immunoprophylaxis, which has been shown to be safe and effective, may be considered for high-risk children during the RSV season. For more information, please contact your paediatrician.
The RSV awareness campaign was independently developed and is powered by EFCNI.
The topic “Respiratory syncyial virus (RSV)” is supported by