It is likely you know someone that has had a premature baby. 1 in 12 babies are born premature which equates to close to 500,000 babies per year. We spend a lot of healthcare dollars to give these babies the best start in life only to send them home and have families fend for themselves during the winter months stressed about Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
RSV is a small cold to most adults but can land a healthy newborn and especially a premature baby in the hospital. A drug called Synagis is on the market and all premature babies less than 35 weeks gestation used to qualify to receive these monthly injections from October to March in the first year of life. This was part of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) guidelines for many years.
But then all of that changed when the AAP backtracked on that decision in an attempt to take matters into their own hands. They have decided to go against the FDA label with its mandated prescription and limit Synagis dosing to specific groups of premature babies (specifically those between 32 and 35 weeks gestation), without proper clinically-based evidence to support this change.
What has resulted are parents taking their baby home from the hospital to fend for themselves with “lockdown” at home with no visitors and only hand-washing and hand-sanitizers in their germ warfare arsenal. There is a drug, (Synagis) but insurance companies listen to the AAP as their guideline for what is and what is not covered for these babies. In an era of skyrocketing premium increases, insurance companies feel the need to charge the average American more money yet stiff these babies from what they need to survive and lead a healthy life.
It is maddening to see a baby hooked up to a ventilator because of an illness that could have been lessened or prevented altogether by an available medication. And it does not end there. Society will likely pay for these decisions with their taxes due to the ongoing medical care that will increase insurance premiums. In addition, there is also potential need for county tax-paid therapeutic services and special education services for issues related to developmental delays and more which can result from such an illness and its sequelae.
In the era where billions of Medicare dollars are automatically spent on everything from life-saving surgery, chemotherapy and other expensive interventions for the elderly community, don’t these babies deserve the same respect? These simple injections are a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of a stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) or re-admission to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Babies can’t vote and they do not have a voice. They need you to speak loudly for them. Tell AAP to change the RedBook guidelines for RSV Prophylaxis to those of the 2012 National Perinatal Association’s guidelines so we can give these children, and our pocketbooks, a rest.