What Should I Do If My Newborn is Sick with the Flu?

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The flu. It’s not pleasant for any of us, but for newborns, influenza can be especially dangerous.

For adults, the flu really stinks and might keep us out of work or daily activities for a few days while we watch tv on the couch and sleep. However, if your baby has the flu, it can be a very serious illness, and in some cases can even become life threatening.

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Doctors recommend that pregnant women get the flu shot, as well as family members, caregivers, and anyone else who will be around the baby. However, if it is too late and your baby already has the flu, what should you do? Read on to find out!

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1. How To Tell

It can be very difficult to tell if your newborn is just fussy or cranky, or has a cold or another virus, or has a potentially dangerous illness such as the flu. There are a few things to watch out for though.

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The first is a sudden onset of fever of 101 degrees or higher. Also, you may notice that your baby is not willing to eat or has respiratory problems like a runny nose or dry cough. Newborns with the flu may also have red eyes, vomiting or diarrhea as well.

2. What To Do

If you suspect that your newborn might have the flu, it’s important to get him or her to a doctor as soon as possible. Call your doctor right away, don’t wait until the next day or whenever you can get an appointment. Newborns are at a higher risk of flu complications.

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If you can’t get ahold of your doctor’s office or answering service, call the local Emergency Room and see if they recommend bringing your baby in. Babies as young as two weeks old are able to get doses of antiviral medication, which need to be started within 48 hours of seeing symptoms for best results.

3. What To Know

Keep in mind that just like grownups, rest and fluids are going to be an important treatment for babies with the flu. Ask your doctor about giving your baby doses of infant’s Motrin or Tylenol to help relieve some of the pain and uncomfortableness.

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Also, once your baby is feeling better, make sure to check into getting him or her a flu vaccine. They are now approved for babies as young as six months of age and can help prevent dangerous flu complications. The flu is normally just an inconvenience, but when you have a newborn, it’s important to make sure it doesn’t turn into something dangerous.

Ms. Ledoux began her career as an ObGyn nurse practitioner prior to becoming a practicing midwife in the Santa Cruz community. Working together with ObGyn physicians in her own practice, she has over 20 years experience in women's health, pregnancy and childbirth.