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Enterovirus D68 and Your Child

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Please let us preface this blog by saying – every remedy, medicine, doctor visit, etc cannot prepare you for what to do if your child ever stops breathing. Please CLICK HERE to take a CPR class today to learn what steps to take if your child suddenly stops breathing!

We have been hearing it for the past few weeks, the enterovirus starts as a common cold/cough and progresses rapidly. So what are some logical steps to take if your child displays symptoms? What should you be aware of?


1. First of all, and most importantly, if your child ever has difficulty breathing, call 9-1-1 or at least go to the ER right away. At 123 CPR, we have had people close to us whose children have lost consciousness on the way to the hospital from respiratory distress. When in doubt, always call 9-1-1.



  • How do you know if your child is struggling to breath? If they have coughing episodes where they struggle to catch their breath, if they begin to turn a blueish or purplish color, or if they become very pale, if they begin to wheeze (they will make a whistling sound when they breathe in and out), or if they are breathing rapid and shallow breaths (you will sometimes see the skin indent between the ribs because they are breathing with the shorter muscles rather than letting the lower part of their lungs expand with their bellies).

2. So should you rush your child to the hospital at the first sign of a cold in fear of the enterovirus? Not exactly. There are over 100 different strains of the enterovirus, the one that is staking it’s claim and taking lives is the Enterovirus D68. Even this strain only severely affects younger children, specifically those with respiratory issues. During normal business hours, we would recommend taking your child to their pediatrician first. While all testing for the enterovirus is done in the hospital, the doctor can prescribe albuterol breathing treatments, steroid treatments, and other prescription medicines to help the lungs relax and function better. This would be your first step, if after this step they continue to get worse or if they ever struggle to breathe, take your child to the hospital immediately.


3. Sleep time can be dangerous. If you are against co-sleeping, it may help to place a pillow underneath the mattress of your toddlers crib to elevate it. This will help your child breathe a bit easier and keep mucus build up down.


Otherwise, if you are comfortable co-sleeping and if you have a co-sleeper, studies have shown something interesting in regards to co-sleeping and respiratory patterns in children:

  • **Dr. Sears: Researchers have discovered that the lining of the nose is rich in receptors that may affect breathing, though their exact function is unknown. Perhaps mother’s breath and/or smell stimulates some of these receptors, and thus affects baby’s breathing. One of the main gases in an exhaled breath is carbon dioxide, which acts as a respiratory stimulant. Researchers have recently measured the exhaled air coming from a mother’s nose while sleeping with her baby. They confirmed this logical suspicion that the closer baby is to mother’s nose, the higher is the carbon dioxide concentration of the exhaled air, and the concentration of carbon dioxide between the face-to-face pair is possibly just the right amount to stimulate breathing.

Again, co-sleeping is all a personal choice, we simply thought it was interesting that the parent/child co-sleeping scenario allows the parent to be a respiratory pacemaker for the child, so to speak.


4. Humidifiers, Steam Showers, and Vicks, OH MY! Keeping the air moisturized is a great addition to prescribed medicines, if you have a humidifier that you can add Vicks to, all the better. Running a hot shower with the door shut and sitting in the steamed room with your child for about 10-15 minutes at a time is also good, just be careful because steam can become dangerously hot and have the opposite affect (NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD ALONE IN A STEAMED ROOM!).

5. Finally, if you have any doubts, if your child is a newborn or under the 12 month mark, please err on the side of caution and seek immediate medical attention for any respiratory concerns.


** http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/health-concerns/sleep-problems/co-sleeping-yes-no-sometimes