Everyone wants to see the new baby their friend or family just gave birth to. They all want to hold and kiss your newborn, which can become a bit nerve-wrecking for your infant when their as your infant's immune system has not fully developed yet. While some parents do not mind, there are others who are extremely overprotective of their newborns, and these instincts are certainly justified.
Mariana Reese Sifrit of Des Moines Iowa, was born a healthy baby girl. Six days following her birth, she stopping feeding and became unresponsive. Doctors diagnosed a type of meningitis which is caused by the herpes simplex virus - responsible for cold sores. Little Mariana died when she was just 18-days old after contracting the viral meningitis. After both parents tested negative for the virus, doctors concluded that the infection was passed to her by someone who had touched or kissed her - someone who had the cold sore virus but without an open or visible sore.
According to Katherine Miao, MD, FACEP, medical director of CityMD, by age 40 over 90 percent of the world's population has been exposed to the cold-sore virus. Jarrett Patton, MD, FAAP, says that the virus can be spread without a visible cold sore. While it does not usually pose a significant risk in adults, it can became serious in babies, becoming deadly if it spreads throughout the infant's body.
Dr. Patton explains that if someone who has the virus touches the baby's hand, followed by the baby touching her eyes, nose, or mouth, the virus can infect the child by reaching the mucous membranes. Since the immune system of a newborn is under-developed, the cold-sore virus can quickly take the form of meningiations - a tissue inflammation that covers the brain and spinal cord.
Does this mean that we should not let people touch or kiss our babies?
Dr. Miao says "exposure to the world is part of how the baby’s immune system develops." She advocates a common sense approach. Those who are ill, should obviously say away from a newborn and those people who want to touch or kiss a baby must properly wash their hands beforehand in order to avoid any risks.
"It’s perfectly acceptable to carry a hand sanitizer for people to use before they touch your baby," Dr. Patton advised. Moreover, when it comes to touching a baby, it is a good limit the touching to the forehead or the stomach.