Stories about: respiratory health

Are you worried about the MERS Virus? Get the facts first…

You may have seen some pretty scary headlines in recent days relating to a new virus that has the medical community on alert. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory illness that can be passed between people in close contact. The condition was first reported in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, and so far most of those who have been infected have been from that region of the world.

People with MERS develop severe acute respiratory illness, presenting symptoms like fever, coughing and shortness of breath. And while there have been deaths associated with the disease, many have been older men with pre-existing health conditions. However, other cases have been reported where the patient experienced just mild respiratory illness.

While MERS is not the same as the SARS virus, it has similar attributes, including how it is transmitted. Since its discovery, doctors have seen transmission from people in close contact to each other, including patients infecting health-care workers. Clusters of cases in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the U.K., France, Tunisia and Italy all have been reported and are being closely watched by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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Keeping infants safe during travel

car seatRecent reports indicate that some infants have lower blood oxygen levels when placed in car seats. Parents hearing this information might worry about the safety of car seats. However, all medical experts agree that car seats are essential for preventing death or injury to newborns and infants during motor vehicle travel. We strongly believe that the risk of injury from motor vehicle accidents outweighs the risk from brief episodes of lower blood oxygen levels.

The following are some steps parents can take to minimize their infant’s risks while using their car seats:

  1. Car seats should only be used to transport children, not as a replacement for a crib or bassinet.
  2. Remove the infant from the car seat if he/she becomes pale, blue or has trouble breathing and call for medical assistance.
  3. Stop intermittently during long trips to remove the infant from the car seat.
  4. Try to limit the time a newborn infant spends in the car seat to one hour.
  5. Have a second adult in the car observe the newborn infant during travel.

Michele DeGrazia, PhD, NNP-BC, is a neonatal nurse practitioner and nurse scientist. Lawrence Rhein, MD, is the director of the Center for Healthy Infant Lung Development.

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Health headlines: Bone health, music and secondhand smoke

Other children’s health stories we’ve been reading:

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