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My Newborn is Sick with the Flu

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My Newborn is Sick with the Flu
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Having a child that is sick with the flu can be very scary, but when that child is a newborn, the fear can be even higher. You need to remember that the flu is an extremely dangerous illness and you need to take your baby to the doctor.

Newborns and young children are actually one of the groups of people who have a higher risk of getting the flu, that’s why the flu shot is highly recommended for young children and the elderly. However, it is still possible for your newborn to get the flu and knowing what to do can make all the difference.

1. Symptoms

Newborns fall into the high risk for flu category because their immune system is still growing and has not fully matured yet. Symptoms are often different in newborns than they are with older groups of people so it is important that you keep an eye on your little ones throughout flu season.

your-babys-immune-system-is-not-fully-developed-yet

 

Some newborns show signs of the flu by having a high fever and no other symptoms. Others only have vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms may be red eyes or earaches.

2. When Should My baby get the Flu Shot

Any child who is over the age of six months should get the flu shot even if they have already had a flu-like illness. The shot itself contains inactive viruses, so it is not possible for a person to get the flu by having the shot administered.

Doctor vaccinating child baby flu injection shot isolated on a white background

You may notice that your baby has a low grade fever after having the shot and you should keep in mind that this is common and there is no need to worry about this. However, if the fever lasts for longer than a couple of days, you should call your doctor.

3. Complications

When babies develop the flu, it is very common for them to also develop croup along with it. Croup is a serious throat infection. It affects the vocal cords and has been known to create issues with babies being able to breathe. Their breathing may switch to extremely loud breathing and they may develop a barking like cough.

Croup-is-a-serious-throat-infection

There is also the potential for newborns to develop lung infections. These could lead to pneumonia and other lung issues in newborns. Ear and sinus infections are also possible in newborns with the flu and, in rare occasions, so are heart, brain and immune system issues.

4. Treatment

If your newborn is showing signs of the flu, it is important that you take them to the doctor as quickly as possible. Acetaminophen can be administered every four hours in order to lessen fever and pain, but you should first talk to your doctor in order to determine the right dosage.

Acetaminophen

Treat your newborn’s fever by dressing them in lightweight clothing and keeping the temperature of your home around 68 degrees. Make sure that you are keeping your baby as hydrated as possible by feeding her small amounts of formula or other liquids that your doctor may have directed.

5. Prevention

It is extremely important for you to have your baby given the flu shot as early as possible during flu seasons. In order for it to be effective, babies need to have two doses of the flu shot a month apart so you will need to plan ahead and get it done early.

flu-shot-when-pregnant

Research has shown that getting the flu shot while you are pregnant can actually lower the baby’s chances of getting the flu by 48%, so make sure that you get one if you are pregnant. You should also encourage other members of the family to get a flu shot as well, so that the baby is not exposed to the flu if another family member were to catch it themselves.

6. Conclusion

Having a newborn with the flu can be a scary experience. However, if you take them to the doctor when they are showing signs and follow the doctor’s instructions, you should be able to treat it without issue.

Doctor with laptop and pregnant woman in doctor's office

It is important that you keep a careful watch on your baby if they do develop the flu and make sure that their condition is improving as the doctor has indicated that it will. If it does not, you will need to take them back to the doctor or to the emergency room.



Dr. Lynette Weiss is ConceiveEasy's Senior Physician and Scientific Director. She is certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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