A MUM has shared heart-wrenching photos of her son fighting for his life – in a bid to stop people from kissing newborn babies.
Ariana DiGrigorio's eight-month-old son Antonio was left on the brink of death after a relative's kiss infected him with a cold.
And the mum-of-four is now urging: "Don't be the reason a baby is hospitalised or dead because the baby was 'just so cute I had to kiss her'."
Ariana, from New Jersey in the US, first realised something was wrong with Antonio, now one, when he caught the flu last December.
And staff at his daycare soon called his mum to tell her that her little one seemed unwell.
Ariana decided to take Antonio to their local hospital, Jersey Shore University Medical Centre, to be sure he didn't have anything life-threatening.
He was diagnosed with the flu and set home after his respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) test came back negative.
However, two months later in February, the tot was still struggling with symptoms including a runny nose, cough and congestion.
Ariana decided to rush him back to hospital and it was then he was diagnosed with RSV, a very common virus that can be fatal to youngsters with compromised immune systems.
Don't be the reason a baby is hospitalised or dead because the baby was 'just so cute I had to kiss her'
Antonio's tiny body was wired up to monitoring machines in the intensive care unit as he was left fighting for his life due to the RSV.
And he was hooked up to a respiratory ventilator for most of his stay as he was no longer able to breathe on his own.
Ariana told Good Morning America: "Before he was transferred into the ICU he was in a regular room and he went into respiratory failure.
"They said he was doing better with Albuterol breathing treatments they were giving him and then it went downhill from there."
Despite fearing for the worst, Antonio's family were relieved when he finally pulled through.
He now sees a respiratory physician every few months and received breathing treatments every four hours.
Ariana told ABC that she believes that once her son had the flu, his immune system was weakened and he could have picked up RSV from anywhere.
The virus travels in tiny droplets of spit, snot and mucus.
What is respiratory syncytial virus?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common, and very contagious, virus that infects the respiratory tract of most children before their second birthday.
For most babies and young children, the infection causes nothing more than a cold.
But for a small percentage, infection with RSV can lead to serious problems such as bronchiolitis, which is inflammation of the small airways of the lungs, or pneumonia, which can become life-threatening.
RSV infection can cause cold-like symptoms, including cough and runny nose, which usually last for one to two weeks.
Call your baby's doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Cough producing yellow, green, or gray mucus
- Unusually upset or inactive
- Refuses to breastfeed or bottle-feed
- Signs of dehydration – lack of tears when crying, little or no urine in the diaper for 6 hours, and cool, dry skin.
If your baby is very tired, breathes rapidly, or has a blue tint to the lips or fingernails, get medical attention immediately.
Even a simple kiss to the forehead could be enough to sicken a baby like Antonio – something Ariana reminded thousands of people on Facebook.
She wrote last month: "Please keep your mouths/breaths away from a baby's face, hands and feet.
"Don't be selfish. Don't kiss babies. It's not worth it.
"It's super awkward as a parent to have to tell someone (especially a family member or friend) to step away from your baby.
"It's also super difficult to stop someone from kissing your child after they're already going in for the kiss."
She also noted that even if an adult doesn't feel sick, they are contagious for as any as 24 hours before their symptoms show up.
RSV infections are most common in adults between December and March, and Ariana begs that anyone who is sick or even thinks they might have a 'sinus infection' stays home.
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