What started out as a common cold turned into something much more serious for an 8-week-old baby. And now her mother is sharing warning signs to help other parents identify the symptoms early — before it becomes dangerous.
This is Jenna Knutz’s fourth child, so unlike new parents, she didn’t panic when her newborn daughter, Alicea, caught a cold two weeks ago. However, since her daughter had difficulty breathing when she was born, she remained cautious.
After several days passed, the mother from Connellsville, Pennsylvania believed her daughter seemed to be on the mend. But when she was at church one Sunday morning, she looked down at her daughter and noticed her nostrils flaring.
“My mother instincts kicked in,” Knutz told CBS News. “I knew something was wrong.”
Knutz lifted up Alicea’s dress to look at her chest and noticed her ribs were contracting. She rushed the baby to the emergency room at Frick Hospital. After performing several tests, doctor’s diagnosed Alicea with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and she was airlifted to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RSV can cause upper respiratory infections — like colds — for healthy people. For children under 1, however, RSV can cause bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the small airways in the lung and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.
“It’s a pretty scary virus,” Knutz said. “It really happened so fast. From the moment I looked at her and saw her nostril flaring to the time we first got to the ER and got an air mask on her, she started turning blue within that hour.”
Alicea’s family is just thankful the newborn didn’t take a turn for the worse in the middle of the night.
“I think it would have been a different story for sure,” Knutz said. “She went downhill so fast.”
Luckily, Alicea bounced back fairly quickly. She only had to spend two days in the hospital before she was released. When she made it home safely, Knutz decided to post a video of her breathing issue on Facebook to show other parents what to look for.
“You want to look for wheezing, pale skin, lacing skin, lips blue or pale, sucking in under ribs, nostrils flaring, throat sinking in, shoulders moving up and down and head bobbing,” Knutz wrote.
The post was shared by more than 65,000 people, and received thousands of comments from people across the country.
“My grandson had it twice…hard to watch and very serious,” one Facebook user commented.
“Thank you for this. Wish I had seen it earlier,” another responded. “My 3 month old stopped breathing today and her oxygen level was at 70. Turns out, she has RSV.”
Knutz never expected her post to reach so many people, but she’s glad it did.
“We’re really thankful that its been able to help so many people,” she said.
Little Alicea is now resting at home with a humidifier and constant monitoring. She still has a lingering cough, but Knutz says she’s already seeing improvement.
If she could give parents one piece of advice, it would be to not be shy when it comes to letting people hold your babies.
“It’s so hard, because people have good intentions. They just want to love on your baby,” said Knutz, explaining how germs can lead to a cold or flu. “I think I said ‘yes’ too many times. I didn’t want to feel bad. But sometimes you have to.”