WHEN Terri-Anne Large’s five-week-old son Isaac came down with a cough and sniffle, she did what any concerned mum would do and took him straight to see a GP.
The doctor examined Isaac and said he only had a common cold – but when he was taken back home his condition began to worsen.
Days later the infant’s life was at risk and he needed to be resuscitated after contracting bronchiolitis, which causes breathing difficulties through inflammation in the lungs.
He was rushed to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and given treatment, but has since been left with potentially permanent damage to his eyesight, and nearly a year on his health is still poor.
Terri-Anne, aged 28, now wants other parents to be more aware of the signs of bronchiolitis in their young children as the cold weather sets in and the illness’ season reaches its peak.
“My advice to parents would be to learn the warning signs of severe bronchiolitis, and seek medical advice if you know there is something wrong with your baby – go with your instinct,” she said.
A campaign called ‘More Than A Cold’ has also been launched with the backing of national baby charities BLISS and TAMBA, to educate parents about symptoms of bronchiolitis, which is especially prevalent in preterm babies.
Isaac, Terri-Anne’s seventh child, was born five weeks premature last October and fell ill the following January.
“He was five weeks old when he caught what I would describe as a little cough and sniffle,” said the stay-at-home mum, who lives in Danesmoor, Chesterfield, with husband Owen, 28.
“One night the alarm on his breathing monitor kept going off so we took him to our local GP. Although the doctor said there was nothing to worry about and that Isaac just had a cough and cold, once we got him home I instinctively felt that something was very wrong, especially when he became very sleepy.”
Terri-Anne then visited the doctor and hospital every day for a week, but was sent away each time.
“Seven days later, when we took him back to the GP for the final time later he looked grey and his breathing was still fast – yet again I was told by the doctor to take him home and that it was nothing to worry about.”
She continued: “When we got home he wouldn’t feed, he felt clammy and suddenly his forehead went purple and his eyes went fixed.
“I thought he was dead, I started screaming for someone to help me.
“My husband started CPR on him while I rung the ambulance. Then the paramedic arrived and got him breathing again.”
In hospital Isaac was given oxygen and put in a medically-induced coma to allow his tiny body to recover.
He was tested for infections and found to have contracted respiratory syncytial virus, a common cause of bronchiolitis.
Isaac was then moved to intensive care at the children’s hospital, where his breathing was stabilised. He was allowed home once he had started feeding again.
“Once we got him home, we realised he couldn’t see because he never looked at us,” Terri-Anne said.
“The doctors agreed and said sometimes the lack of oxygen can cause these problems.”
Isaac is currently on the waiting list for an MRI scan to check for any long-term damage to his eyes, and has visited hospital around 30 times since January with numerous ailments.
“He is still behind in development and every time he is poorly it always goes straight to his chest,” Terri-Anne said.
“He has three inhalers, one which is steroid based which he has to have twice a day and the other two are used when his chest plays up. He always seems to be poorly and never seems to be well.
“I had too much trust in the doctors even when I knew something was wrong, and at times felt like I was making things up and seeing things. Do push harder and ask them at least to monitor your baby.
“You know your baby better than anyone else and that extra bit of monitoring will do no harm.”
Visit www.morethanacold.co.uk for more information about the campaign.
AROUND one in three babies develop bronchiolitis in their first year of life – but a recent survey found that only one in 10 parents could recognise the conditions severe symptoms.
Youngsters are at greater risk of developing the illness if they are born prematurely, as they have less mature immune systems and only partially-developed airways.
An airborne virus known as the respiratory syncytial virus is responsible for 80 per cent of cases, while other bugs are sometimes the cause, such as the adenovirus and rhinovirus.
The seasonal condition occurs from October to March and is caused by an inflammation of the tiny air passages deep inside the lungs, called bronchioles.
Common symptoms include a rasping cough, faster breathing, loss of appetite and high temperature.
To stop the condition worsening, parents are urged to take precautions such as washing their hands with soap and water, especially before touching their baby, and covering the child’s mouth or nose when they cough or sneeze.
Children with bronchiolitis should also be kept away from adults who show signs of a cold. Their toys should be wiped regularly to prevent germs spreading, and youngsters should be kept away from cigarette smoke.
In some cases, doctors will recommend that babies with a high risk of developing severe bronchiolitis are given monthly injections to protect them from infection.