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the eric update - day 460: on the continuum of cautiousness during cold and flu season.

since we're rapidly entering cold and flu season and considering the fact that i already have a heinous head cold, you might forgive me wondering aloud about the continuum of cautiousness that exists regarding the measures that one might deem reasonable or not to prevent illnesses in former micropreemies ( and since i'm medicated while i'm writing this, you might also forgive me for not being entirely sure if that previous sentence actually makes any sense :-) ).

of course, any parent will take whatever reasonable measures to prevent their child from getting sick during cold and flu season, but parents of children born less at less than 28 weeks with birthweights less than 2 pounds ( 900 grams ) can often have a difficult time just deciding what defines reasonableness as they try to balance the desire to avoid over-protection against the increased risks their children face associated with respiratory tract infections; of particular concern are bacterial and viral infections that aggravate the "lower" respiratory tract ( e.g. the lungs, respiratory bronchioles, alveoli etc ), resulting in bronchitis, bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

as a consequence of his extreme prematurity, not only are odin's lungs physically smaller than children of the same age ( and will remain so until he's around 8 years of age ), but they're effectively even smaller still since he's had a non-trivial amount of damaged tissue as a result of infant respiratory distress syndrome, mild bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and pneumonia; so contracting anything that inflames and irritates his lower respiratory system can have a much more dire impact than one might otherwise suspect.

and while we're big fans of doing the things that one should do in one's home to prevent colds flus and infections, including using copious amounts of the ever popular alcohol-based hand sanitizers which do a fantastic job of killing bacteria, we're still at a bit of a loss about what to do about the viruses that are unaffected by sanitizers and are often the causes of the very respiratory infections that we're concerned about ( e.g. viral pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia in children ).

which finally brings me to my "real" point. while we're sure that odin has a grand time playing with one or the both of us each day, we'd both like to see him have more opportunities to engage in semi-structured playtime with kids his own age and we'd rather not wait a full 6 months until the end of cold and flu season to start. so we're contemplating enrolling him in an age-appropriate gymboree learning program ( or perhaps other similar programs in our area ), but can't quite figure out how to rationally weigh the risk that daycare & preschools are epicenters of [viral] flu epidemics.

are we being overbearing and overprotective parents if we decide to keep him secluded and sequestered for another winter season, knowing that at the very least we would have the peace of mind that we did all that we could to help prevent the risks associated with developing a lower respiratory infection? or are we being cavalier and irresponsible by deciding that the potential benefits of "social play" outweigh the risk of developing a condition that could lead to further damage to his already handicapped lower respiratory capacity?

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10/07/2005 11:53:00 PM 6 comments


That is a tough choice. You might have to weigh being around other children vs. cleanliness of the facilites. Last year we went to the Gymboree to redeem a free class ticket and see what it was like. They went over and over and over all of the precautions they take to make sure everybody stays clean and safe (including don't bring your sick child here, but there are really dumb parents as you most likely already know). Anywho, I was very impressed with their sanitation procedures and such. However, M came down with (and was hospitalized) with the rotavirus not even a week later. My husband blamed Gymboree, but I (being the rational one) was quick to point out we could have picked that up ANYWHERE. There is a book put out by Gymboree that has all of the activites that they do in the classes. If you wanted to do those at home at a structred time during the week, and then go to the facilities after cold season, I'm sure Odin would understand. ;)

By Blogger Suzanne, at 12:06 AM  

suzanne: "Anywho, I was very impressed with their sanitation procedures and such. However, M came down with (and was hospitalized) with the rotavirus not even a week later."

ack! well that's certainly the type of thing we'd like to avoid. maybe it really is a germboree :-) we'd really like to give him more opportunities for play time with others his own age over the winter, but obviously not if it means risking hospitalization. i keep thinking we'll find a group for "at risk" kids where all the parents are uber cautious about these kinds of issues, but maybe i'm just dreaming.

By Blogger e3, at 12:31 AM  

I was so excited when I thumbed through the Parents magazine and noticed some people that looked familiar. I looked closer and saw that it was about Odin. I ran around the house showing everyone. Remember him, It's the family I follow on the computer. I thought they did a good job. I was suprised not to see a web address since most other articles have one. GV

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:48 AM  

Long time lurker...I had to comment because I have worked at the "children's enrichment facility" you mentioned as well various other incarnations of the concept. I recommend NOT GOING! Every single winter I worked at such a facility (and often in the summer too) I would contract a cold/respiratory infection that lasted the ENTIRE winter. At one point, my physician even diagnosed asthma (thankfully incorrectly). When I stopped working at these types of facilities my winter maladies never resurfaced. That's not to say I am not a huge advocate of peer interaction between young children; I think it plays a huge role in development. I don't think a structured setting is necessary for this type of interaction and if it is reasonable for your family, maybe you could find some babies in similar develpment phases and host a playgroup in your home. You could even run an ad in your community paper and search for other at risk kids who might like to come! Sorry for the long comment, hope it is helpful. Feel free to email mr.gonzoAThotmailDOTcom if you have any questions.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:00 AM  

He's only a year old! There will PLENTY of time for interacting with kids his own age. With my first I was very anxious to get him signed up for activities, but I've since learned to live by the motto: "Childhood is a journey, not a race!"

I'm not a germophobe and my kids have been pretty healthy, but if I had a preemie I would put off those types of places until next spring (or better yet, wait until summer and find an OUTDOOR playgroup).

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:07 AM  

Don't know if you all did this last year, but we have a preemie and he's receiving synagis shots every month to prevent rsv. We were told by our doctors that during the winter particularly, our boy should not only not go to daycare or other kid-heavy places, but to also avoid grocery stores and other high traffic areas. Also, it was reccomended that we get flu shots as a precaution.

By Blogger Silver Zephyr, at 9:16 AM  

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