The parents of a newborn baby who died just eight days after her May 2018 birth are warning others about the potential dangers of allowing family and friends to touch and kiss infants. Abigail Rose Friend, who said her daughter Aliza Rose was born healthy but later contracted herpes virus likely through the kiss of an infected person, has taken to Facebook to share her family’s tragedy.
“I’m never going to stop sharing the gut wrenching, heartbreaking, soul shattering story of our sweet Aliza Rose,” Friend, of Maryland, posted on Facebook. “She was 8 days old when she passed away. She was born a happy healthy almost 9lb[sic] baby. She was healthy for a day and half [SIC] before the HSV-1 virus attached to her spine and ate her lungs and brain.”
HSV-1 typically causes cold sores or small blisters on the mouth, eye or lips, which can lead to severe infections or even death in newborns due to their undeveloped immune systems. According to the New York State Department of Health, about 70 percent of U.S. adults are infected with HSV-1 and can shed virus in their saliva at any time, even if they don’t show symptoms. The virus can be transferred to newborns from close contact with someone who is shedding HSV-1 or has an active outbreak.
Infected newborns may first experience low-grade fever, poor feeding or skin blisters. The symptoms can quickly escalate to high fever, seizures or death. Treatment for infected newborns requires immediate hospitalization and 21 days of antiviral medication, which may not prevent death or brain damage.
The New York State Department of health recommends washing hands before touching newborns, and not allowing individuals with cold sores to kiss babies.
Friend, 19, echoed that advice in her post, claiming that “someone touched her without washing their hands or kissed her face while being a carrier of the virus.”
“Please help us save more babies lives by sharing our story and NOT kissing babies,” she wrote. “WASH YOE [SIC] HANDS. DO NOT KISS THE BABIES.”
Friend said that she thinks about her daughter every day and that she hopes their tragedy can help bring awareness to people about newborn care. She said she didn’t know about the HSV-1 virus until it struck her daughter.
“You don’t want something like this to happen,” she said, according to The Sun. “It’s awful. I just want people to be aware that this is a very real threat to children.”
Aliza was removed from life support on May 20. Friend said it took her months to feel ready to share Aliza’s story, and that looking at photos of her daughter hooked up to machines made her ill.
“She was basically hooked up to any kind of machine you can think of to have a baby on,” she said, according to The Sun. “It literally made me sick to my stomach to see her like that.”