china's new virus affecting children

China’s mystery illness affecting children : What Indian moms need to know!

What's Happening in China?

China is suddenly in the news again. The children there are grappling with a respiratory illness similar to pneumonia currently. The WHO on 23rd November 2023  said that the illness is mainly due to common winter pathogens like adenovirus, RSV and influenza and not a new species of virus. However it has requested for laboratory investigations from the Chinese authorities. Currently, a huge number of children are hospitalised showing pneumonia-like symptoms seemingly caused by mycoplasma pneumoniae, a bacteria that infects the lungs. For pregnant moms and new mothers, understanding the situation and taking necessary precautions is crucial. While the situation is evolving, it's important to stay informed and take preventive measures to safeguard our little ones.

Symptoms and Risks for babies and children:

This virus presents with symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, resembling pneumonia. It's crucial to be vigilant, especially if you have infants or young children. While severe cases are rare, it's essential to seek medical attention promptly if you notice any concerning symptoms in your child.

Potential Risks for Pregnant Women:

While research on the specific impact of the emerging virus on pregnant women is ongoing, respiratory infections during pregnancy can lead to more severe outcomes. This may include an increased risk of preterm birth, complications for the mother, or the need for intensive care. As with many respiratory viruses, caution is advised.

How does this affect Indian moms and kids?

As of now, the situation is localised in China, and there is no immediate cause for panic among Indian mothers. However, it's always prudent to stay informed and adopt preventive measures, as viruses can spread globally. We have seen with the recent coronavirus pandemic so it's important to practise some Do’s and Don'ts to stay safe.

Do’s and Don’ts for new moms and kids:

  1. Encourage regular hand washing for both you and your child.
  2. Limit exposure to crowded places and maintain social distancing where possible
  3. Encourage mask-wearing by involving your children in the process. Let them choose or even decorate their own masks with colours and stickers. This way, it becomes a positive and creative activity rather than a chore.
  4. Stay up to date with your baby’s vaccinations. Kids are advised to take 1 flu shot every year for the first 6 years, do not miss that!
  5. Strike a balance between indoor and outdoor activities to keep your child active and healthy. This could include short nature walks, backyard play, or even indoor exercises like yoga tailored for kids
  6. Avoid touching your face and eyes unnecessarily. This is hard to keep up with small kids and babies so use a hand sanitizer when you are outdoors. For little older children create characters who love to wash their hands, keep hands away from their face and wear masks to defeat "germ monsters." This interactive approach can make hygiene practices memorable for your little ones.
  7. If you have a picky eater at home, experiment with nutrient-rich recipes that are both delicious and healthy. Sneak in veggies creatively, such as blending them into smoothies or making colourful, veggie-packed snacks. This ensures your child gets essential nutrients without the fuss. Focus on foods rich in Vitamin C and zinc such as citrus foods, oranges, grapes, amla, broccoli, sweet potatoes. It needed to ask your paediatrician to prescribe a multivitamin syrup for your child’s immunity.
  8. If you suspect someone around you is unwell, maintain a distance. If you or your child feel unwell then stay at home and do not send your child to school!
preventive measures to protect from flu

Protective Measures for Pregnant Women:

  1. Ensure regular prenatal check-ups with your healthcare provider. This allows for continuous monitoring of your health and early detection of any potential complications.
  2. Keep up to date with prenatal vaccinations. Some doctors recommend a flu shot in pregnancy!
  3. Emphasise meticulous hand hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap is unavailable, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  4. Limit unnecessary exposure to crowded places.Consider alternatives such as online shopping or virtual appointments when possible.
  5. Discuss remote work options with your employer to minimise exposure to potential sources of infection. Many employers offer flexible arrangements to support pregnant employees during such situations.
  6. When in public or in close proximity to others, wearing an N95 mask can provide an additional layer of protection. Ensure it covers both your nose and mouth securely.
  7. Adequate sleep and nutrition are of highest importance for overall health and well being.
  8. Stress management is crucial during pregnancy and can positively impact both you and your baby. Do not read news that is unsettling or giving you anxiety. Practice meditation and distract yourself from too much social media which can overwhelm you especially when you are pregnant. 
  9. Choose to get knowledge from reputed sources of information like CDC, WHO and State health and family welfare services advisories and stay away from the articles that cause fear mongering. 

Takeaway and advice from WHO:

Based on the available information, WHO recommends that people in China follow measures to reduce the risk of respiratory illness, which include recommended vaccines against influenza, COVID-19 and other respiratory pathogens as appropriate; keeping distance from people who are ill; staying home when ill; getting tested and medical care as needed; wearing masks as appropriate; ensuring good ventilation; and practicing regular handwashing. WHO does not recommend any specific measures for travelers to China. In general, persons should avoid travel while experiencing symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness. 

Though the mystery virus is not a cause of concern to Indian moms right now, it's good to be prepared and informed. In the face of uncertainty, let's redefine worry as vigilance and fear as preparation. By staying informed and implementing practical measures, you're not just protecting yourself and your little one but also the community at large! Drop a comment if this article helped you and share freely with other moms in your circle!

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