Housekeeping and Micropreemies

One question that I used to receive a LOT, and still hear from time-to-time, is this:

 

Do you have to be really super vigilant when it comes to cleaning your house when you a very early preemie?

 

The answer to that, of course, is not simple and varies from family to family.  The easiest response, though, is “yes, definitely, to a certain degree.”  The biggest universal reason for this comes down to one single body part:

lungs.

 

Micropreemies pretty much never go home with strong, healthy lungs.  Some are healthier than others, to be sure, but almost all are still pretty fragile.  They may be on oxygen, c-pap machines, apnea monitors, or even home ventilators.  Some will be receiving daily breathing treatments.

 

For some of these babies, dust, dander, pet hair, pollen, and other allergens can be great irritants.  Careful dusting, vacuuming, replacing filters, and cleaning the vents can go a long way in reducing the number of these little buggers in your home.  Many parents of tiny preemies call in a professional to really get those vents cleaned out a week or more before coming home.  This allows any loosened dust and allergens to settle in the home, where they can be vacuumed, swept, or dusted away.

 

Another grave concern for preemie parents are simple cold viruses.  When an otherwise-healthy, full-term baby catches a cold, it is sad and miserable.  Still, saline drops, an aspirator (nose sucker to some of you), and plenty of TLC are enough to get most babies through just fine.  Micropreemies, however, have a high risk of a cold developing into RSV, bronchitis, pneumonia, or other complications.   Many pediatricians who would advise simply keeping your full-term baby comfortable at home want to see micropreemies at the first sniffle or cough.  Their tendency toward having chronic lung disease (CLD)  [also called broncho-pulmonary disease (BPD)] ups the stakes and merits quick attention.

 

To help minimize those cold viruses, preemie parents tend to be vigilant hand-washers, liberal users of hand sanitizer (weather alcohol- or herb-based), and avoiders of crowded places during cold season.  There is no perfect way to avoid the cold virus, and most preemies will still fall victim to at least one cold a season, but most of us parenting these babies do our best to minimize exposure.

 

Some very premature babies eventually outgrow their “higher risk” status.  Our former micropreemie, now six years old, no longer requires any special treatment when it comes to colds.  She goes to public school, gets sick sometimes, and her body fights it off like any other healthy child.  We’re very lucky, though, in that her “lung issues” were fairly minimal by micropreemie standards.  She did come home on oxygen, but was released by pulmonology (and from her O2 tank) by six months old.  By two years old, she had outgrown her CLD diagnosis.  Even so, I will say that she’s the only one of our children to ever require nebulized albuterol to help her breathe through a cold– it’s definitely different.

 

So… are we micropreemie parents fanatical cleaners?  As you probably already guessed, it depends.  It depends on the health and age of the specific child, the current state of the home, the personality of the parent, and the risks vs. benefits in any particular situation.

 

As for me?  Well, like I said, my little micropreemie has grown into a strong, healthy little girl.  So don’t be expecting too much around here. ;)

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6 comments to Housekeeping and Micropreemies

  • Beth

    Good tips. We kept our house clean and got a couple of air purifiers before we brought our 4 1/2 pound former micropreemie (birth weight 1 lb 9 oz) home from the hospital. Thankfully he didn’t have any breathing problems, even three weeks before they sent him home, so we didn’t have all of the worries that some micropreemie parents have. Still we didn’t take him out of the house unless necessary that winter and thankfully he didn’t catch a cold, or any other illness, until he was ten months old. Breast milk really helped strengthen his immune system too. I’m a believer there. No I’m pregnant 16 weeks with #2 and we are praying this little one doesn’t come early due to pre eclampsia like Big Brother.

    • I was hospitalized at 27 weeks for preeclampsia with my first pregnancy. The second time around I was CLOSELY monitored by my normal OB and my perinatologist through a hypertension clinic. Baby number was perfectly healthy at 38 weeks. Good Luck!

    • Congrats on baby #2, Beth! I don’t have experience with preeclampsia, but Heather (who already replied to you ;) ) and I were pregnant at the same time with our post-preemie babies and I know things went very well for her. I’ll be thinking about you and keeping you in my prayers!

  • We used hand sanitizer and kept Reese away from crowds, but we didn’t have to do any crazy duct cleaning. Reese was only intubated to get the surfactant. Our pediatrician was pretty adamant we keep him away from sick folks. She had every intention of admitting him if he got a cold. Luckily he was 11 months old by the time he got his first cold. He still had to get the RSV shots but by then he was strong enough to deal with a normal cold virus. Now I think he’s no more prone to sickness than any full term 5 year old.

    • It absolutely floors me the difference those couple weeks can make in a baby’s lung health/condition! C. was considered a major success for as 24 weeker and she was on the vent for just over a month! :O

  • Claud Ciesiolka

    There is not much you can do against the cold virus since it mutates at a very fast rate. Keeping yourself healthy is a great way of keeping away the cold virus.,*`;,

    Enjoy your weekend! http://www.foodsupplementdigest.com/cayenne-pepper-cleanse/

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