A New Jersey mother is sharing her infant son’s health scare last year as a warning to others about the dangers of kissing babies. Ariana DiGrigorio, who last month shared a photo of her son Antonio hooked up to several medical devices in a hospital crib, summarized her warning in a short message: “Don’t be selfish. Don’t kiss babies. It’s not worth it.”
DiGrigorio, a mother of two boys, had updated her followers in February when her then 8-month-old son was hospitalized with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The virus is considered common and usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. While most people recover in a week or two, it can be serious in infants and older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The virus is also the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 in the U.S. Symptoms can include runny nose, decrease in appetites, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing. In young infants, symptoms may present as irritability, decreased activity and breathing difficulties.
While healthy infants and adults infected with the virus typically do not need to be hospitalized, those with severe cases, especially infants younger than 6 months old, may need hospital care to address breathing issues or dehydration.
The virus can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or if infected droplets from the cough or sneeze enter the eyes, nose or mouth, or if you touch a surface that has the virus on it. It can also be spread through direct contact with the virus, like kissing the face of a child, according the CDC.
People infected with the virus are usually contagious for three to eight days, and infections in the U.S. typically occur in the fall, winter and spring, which is what prompted DiGrigorio to issue her warning.
“Please keep your mouths/breaths away from a baby’s face, hands and feet,” she wrote on Aug. 23. “Don’t be the reasons a baby is hospitalized (or dead) because the baby was ‘just so cute I had to kiss her!’ It’s super awkward as a parent to have to tell someone (especially a family member or friend) to step away from your baby. It’s also super difficult to stop someone from kissing your child after they’re already going in for the kiss.”
“Don’t be selfish. Don’t kiss babies. It’s not worth it,” she wrote. “Also if you’re sick, please stay home. What might be a ‘sinus infection’ or ‘allergies’ to you, could translate to a life-threatening illness for a baby.”
The CDC has similar guidance for adults who are in contact with infants or young children, especially those born premature or with chronic lung or heart disease and weakened immune systems. The agency advises to wash your hands, keep your hands off your face, avoid close contact with sick people, cover coughs and sneezes, clean and disinfect surfaces, and stay home when you’re sick.
She ended her post with the photo of her hospitalized son, and captioned it, “Flashback to AJ in the hospital at 8 months old with RSV.”