Even a tiny scratch on your baby’s body may give you sleepless nights and a slight cough might trigger all sorts of worrisome thoughts. It’s not easy caring for a child. But for a parent, it’s the most fulfilling job in the world.
It is only natural that parents absolutely love it when others dote on their infants, calling them “cute”, “adorable” and many more befitting adjectives.
Your heart probably fills with joy when family, friends and even strangers are smitten with your little bundle of joy. They may want to squeeze your baby’s cheek lightly, pick them up in their arms and even give them a smooch.
As parents, we’ll go to any length to protect our babies from harm. However, there are still some ways we might be exposing them to illness and disease without realizing it. One such way is through mouth-to-mouth contact with another person.
Yes, if you allow people to kiss your baby on the lips, you are exposing them to a grave degree of danger.
In September 2015, British mother Claire Henderson posted a picture of her 1-month-old daughter, Brooke, with a visible mouth and face disease, accompanied by a warning that would shake many parents of newborn babies to their core.
A stranger visiting Brooke in the hospital had kissed her on the lips. The stranger did not know that she was infected with the herpes simplex virus at the time and had unknowingly passed the infection onto little Brooke by kissing her.
While the herpes simplex virus is not a serious illness for an adult to fight, that is hardly the case with an infant.
“Please share this with every new mum and pregnant woman you know,” Brooke’s mom wrote on her Facebook post. “Before 3 months old, a baby cannot fight the herpes virus. If a baby contracts this, it can cause liver and brain damage and lead to death.”
“…DO NOT let anyone kiss your new-born’s mouth, even if they don’t look like they have a cold sore – 85% of the population carry the virus. And if someone had a cold sore ask them to stay away until it has gone. Everyone who I have spoken to had not heard of this before and so I felt it was important to share Brooke’s story and raise awareness to stop anyone else going through what we have this week,” she further wrote.
In another similarly devastating case, Charlotte and Mohamed lost their 11-day-old baby girl, Mira, in 2008 after she developed a cold sore on her lower lip and succumbed to the herpes simplex virus a few days later.
No amount of clarity was achieved in the case of Mira and how she came to contract the virus. What did, however, become certain was this: There is a gross lack of awareness about this issue and it needs to be addressed by the medical community.
In another tragedy, 2-month-old Kaiden McCormick succumbed to multiple organ failure after contracting the herpes simplex virus from his father through mouth-to-mouth kissing in 2013.
What is the herpes simplex virus?
Herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) is an extremely contagious disease and highly common around the world.
Although HSV-1 can also affect the genitals, it is primarily an oral disease that affects the lips, mouth and often the face. It manifests in symptoms known as cold sores that first begin to appear on the lips and in or around the mouth.
It usually occurs through mouth-to-mouth contact and is extremely common in children.
However, even before these symptoms begin to present themselves, the virus may well be settled in the person’s system, and any oral contact can transfer the virus to someone else.
Therefore, even if adults do not complain of or display such symptoms, mouth-to-mouth contact with an infant should still be a strict NO-NO.
According to the World Health Organization, 67 percent of people under the age of 50 are infected with HSV-1.