Lately there has been much talk about a new type of flu called the swine flu or H1N1. The swine flu affects the same high risk groups as the seasonal flu. If you have a baby our child under the age of nine, the swine flu or the seasonal flu could turn serious for them if there are complications. Learn how you can keep your babies and small children safe. The first step to keeping them safe is to recognize flu symptoms in children.
Influenza spreads by person to person contact. If someone touches a surface that has been infected (cough or sneezing droplets from an infected person) and then touches their nose, mouth or eyes, they can introduce the virus into their bodies.
Babies are constantly touching their eyes and everything else. You can reduce their risk by keeping their face and hands clean at all times. If they have a cold, they can become weak. This makes them less able to fight off a subsequent flu infection.
Young children are notorious for playing together without washing their hands. when your child has friends over or attends a daycare center, send them with a bottle of hand sanitizer. The teachers can use it in the classroom or wherever there is no water available. The sanitizer will kill the germs on their hands.
Comply with all of the school and daycare closings due to the flu. Keep your children home to avoid exposure to other kids with the influenza virus. Being in close proximity to someone who is constantly coughing and sneezing from the flu can increase your child’s chances of becoming infected.
You may be the person who is sick with the flu. As a caregiver, you don’t want your child to get sick along with you. Until you are well, ask a family member to care for the baby to help you out. Spend as little time as possible with them until your fever has broken. If you are a breastfeeding mother, express your milk into bottles and let someone else feed the baby when the time comes.
Young children are advised to get the H1N1 flu vaccine. There are two types of vaccine delivery: nasal spray and shot. The shot is safe for children from age two up to the early sixties. The shot is created using an inactivated form of the H1N1 virus to produce antibodies in the body.
A nasal spray is also available. For children over the age of two and adults, the nasal spray can be given in lieu of the flu shot. The main component of the spray is a live, weakened form of the swine flu virus, but it doesn’t cause the flu. For children aged two through nine, two doses of the vaccine are recommended for full effectiveness.
Children make up one of the risk groups for the flu. You can protect your child from getting the virus by following a few precautions and recognizing the flu symptoms in children early on. Begin with vaccinating them against both the seasonal flu and the swine flu. Then observe their playmates — other children for flu symptoms so that the virus doesn’t spread.