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May 26, 2024

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RSV in babies can develop into a serious infection.

Babies catch up to eight colds during their first year. Parents should beware if symptoms worsen.

RSV in Babies and Young Children Can Be Serious

Babies catch up to eight colds or more during their first year, so alway be wary of the RSV virus which can grow serious.

Some colds are nothing to sneeze at. And while up to eight innocent colds are typical for babies in their first year of life,  parents and caregivers should always be on the look out for signs of RSV in babies. An estimated 58,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized each year due to RSV infection. Nearly every child contracts RSV by the age of 2, but for the youngest children — babies born prematurely or babies with a weak immune system — it can mean hospitalization. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year the virus results in 57,000 hospitalizations among children ages 5 and younger.

Symptoms of RSV in babies and young children include rapid breathing, eating refusal, lethargy, fever, sneezing, coughing and wheezing. Virtually all children get an RSV infection by the time they are 2 years old, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Thankfully, most of the time RSV causes a mild, cold-like illness, but if it worsens it can cause:

  • Bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung)
  • Pneumonia (infection of the lungs)

Should You Go to the ER?

So what do you do if your child develops severe symptoms? Dr. James Antoon, M.D., Ph.D. assistant professor  at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, says it’s always best to reach out to your child’s pediatrician for direction. But if your child displays severe symptoms, go directly to an emergency room for evaluation. Be aware that during the ongoing pandemic, all area emergency rooms and hospitals have strict visitor policies.


• Your child is under 3 months old, was born prematurely or has lung, heart
or immune deficiency problems
• You become concerned about any of the above symptoms.



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About the Author

Susan Swindell Day, Editor

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.