RSV | Common Winter Illnesses

For parents who’ve spent time with their babies in an NICU, winter illnesses are more than just annoyances. A cold, flu or respiratory infection can be a major setback for an infant born preterm.

CPBF-FBPC has collaborated with Bliss, a charity for premature babies and families based in the United Kingdom, on this booklet for parents and friends of preemies. Please feel free to download and share this resource widely.


Common Winter Illnesses pamphlet |  Les Maladies Hivernales Courantes

Protecting Premature Babies


Did you know most antibodies are acquired during the third trimester? A baby born prematurely misses out on the full amount of protective antibodies from mom.

Learn about how to protect premature babies here

To learn more about common winter illnesses, check out the webinar below.

If you are taking a baby home in the winter months, you may want to share information with your family and friends so that everyone understands why you are being careful.  In collaboration with parents, we have created a letter that you can download, share, and adapt for your purposes.

If you are the parent of a premature baby, you may hear about RSV (or respiratory syncytial virus).  It causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages, and it is a major cause of respiratory illness in all young children. It is a particular concern for preemies. Because of this, preemies and other at-risk infants receive injections throughout the RSV season, which is usually November to April.  These injections are not vaccines; they are antibodies which help protect babies from RSV.

In Canada, each province has different criteria for who receives these injections. Ask your child’s medical service providers if your child is eligible for shots after discharge from the NICU.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is the most common cause of lower respiratory tract illness and hospitalization for infants worldwide. Those at highest risk of hospitalization or even death include premature infants, infants and children with medical complications determined by health care providers.

Palivizumab (Synagis®/ RSVP), a humanized monoclonal antibody, was approved in Canada in 2002 for the prevention of serious lower respiratory disease caused by RSV. It has been shown to significantly reduce hospitalizations due to RSV infection in young children.


RSV Season 

In Canada the RSV season usually runs from November/December to March/April. The season is determined by reports of positive isolates in the Health Canada Respiratory Virus Weekly Detection Report or from Provincial Virology Laboratories. 



Eligibility criteria is based on recommendations by the Canadian Pediatric Society and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Canadian Immunization Guide. 

Each province has its own eligibility criteria. Please see the individual links for more information.


If you have further questions, speak to your doctor.