“Don’t wait” to ask for help

Newborn baby feet and legs with oxygen saturation monitor or pulse oximeter, lying in an incubator to warm up and being treated in the intensive care unit of a hospital after a premature birth

Newborn baby feet and legs with oxygen saturation monitor or pulse oximeter, lying in an incubator to warm up and being treated in the intensive care unit of a hospital after a premature birth

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A Texas dad shares the “terrifying” story of his son’s hospitalization in hopes of helping other parents stay on top of their kids’ health.

Stephen Balka rushed his 2-month-old son Adrian to the emergency room last week after noticing he was having trouble breathing, he told CNN.

Doctors told him and his wife that Adrian had tested positive for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a virus which the Mayo Clinic says is relatively mild in children and older adults and in good health, but can cause serious complications in babies under 12 months.

Balka told the outlet that after he was sent home by doctors, his son’s breathing problems persisted and they returned to hospital. Hours later, baby Adrian was transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and admitted to intensive care. Balka said her son’s health is now improving after a week.

“It’s a very terrifying situation. It’s one of my biggest fears,” Balka explained. “If we had waited longer, or if we had just taken him home, you know, and just given him some medicine, he probably wouldn’t have done it on his own.”

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Balka then urged other parents to stand up for their children and not hesitate to seek medical attention if they feel something is wrong.

“Don’t wait,” he told CNN. “If you feel something is wrong with your child, you know it better than anyone. Get help right away. Because it could, you know, it could be something minor, but again, it could be something catastrophic.”

RSV is the most common cause of bronchitis and pneumonia in children under one year of age in the United States. Infections “are spread primarily through respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes, and through direct contact with a contaminated surface,” the CDC says.

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Last week, the United States reported an increase in RSV cases, causing a shortage of pediatric hospital beds.

While RSV typically peaks in late winter, about 71% of the country’s 40,000 pediatric beds are currently occupied, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which is the highest in two years.

Hospitals nationwide are calling the increase in cases “unprecedented,” and the CDC confirmed on Thursday that there has been an increase in many parts of the country, according to CNN. The outbreak affected states such as Rhode Island, Washington, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, New Jersey, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Because RSV is a virus, there is no direct treatment like antibiotics, which are for bacterial infections. The best treatment is rest and fluids, but parents should closely monitor their child’s breathing.

“Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and the elderly,” the CDC says.

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