Protecting kids from winter ills
Sara Tara’s life changed when she had her first son, Quinn, nearly three years ago. At only five months old, the youngster, who’s now two, was sick with bronchiolitis during his first winter.
It was a tough year for the Ma¯ngere mother, with Quinn in and out of hospital with the respiratory condition, which commonly affects newborns in winter.
‘‘I would spend half the night hearing him with a cough that sounded like a freight train. It was really scary,’’ Tara says.
‘‘I didn’t think they could get such an illness so young but of course they can, they’re so weak when they’re little.’’
When Tara was pregnant at the beginning of this year, getting the chance to possibly prevent her second son, Julian, from suffering the same fate was a no-brainer. She’s one of the many women worldwide who are part of a vaccination trial against RSV, a respiratory virus which causes things like bronchiolitis and pneumonia in young children.
The trial is being done at hospitals in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch and is given as either a live vaccine or a placebo to women in their third trimester of pregnancy ahead of their babies’ first winter.
Kidz First Children’s Hospital paediatrician Adrian Trenholme has been leading the study for Counties Manukau Health for the past two years. Having worked at Middlemore for more than 30 years, he knows the problems the hospital faces with respiratory illnesses each winter.
‘‘We have a problem with this disease and we need a vaccine for it. When you belong to a community you belong to the solution,’’ Trenholme says.
The trial has given Tara a sense of reassurance of young Julian’s health and she encourages other expectant mothers to take part if time allows.
‘‘I wouldn’t wish it [bronchiolitis] on my worst enemy . . . If you can prevent it why wouldn’t you.’’
Middlemore Hospital is looking for more women who are expecting babies from March to July 2018 to participate in the trial. Women who are 18 to 40-years-old, have had fewer than five children, and with no serious medical problems are encouraged to talk to their midwife about taking part.