Child health experts have urged parents not to allow relatives, friends, neighbours, and visitors to kiss their newborn babies.
The act, the paediatricians said, should be discouraged, warning that kissing newborns exposes them to the risk of infections that their immunity might not be able to withstand.
The physicians also kicked against the habit of allowing people to have unrestricted access to newborn babies.
The child specialists disclosed this during exclusive interviews with PUNCH HealthWise.
One of the experts, a Consultant Paediatrician at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Kwara State, Dr. Oluwabunmi Mokuolu, told our correspondent that a lot was wrong with people kissing newborn babies.
Mokuolu, explained “You don’t know what they are harbouring. Some of the people carrying babies may have allergies like colds for example.
“By the time you are kissing the baby, colds are usually transmitted by viruses, you are indirectly transferring these viruses to these babies.
“So, you are increasing their chance/chances of having a cold and other viral infection. These bring down their immunity. You know they are really small and they are new to the world and their immune system is weak.
So, this virus brings down their immunity and a cold can be very serious for a baby. Although, no cough is little. To adults, it is little but to babies, it is not. That cough can be something else to the child.
“It can be a bacterial cough and this way, infections can be transferred to the newborn and the poor child does not have enough antibodies or immunity to fight infection like an adult.”
The paediatrician warned that some babies could die from viral infections if they are presented to the hospital late for treatment by the parents.
“If they have these diseases, they are usually in a severe form of the diseases and it is not good for them.
“Some can even die from it because parents bring those babies late to the hospital. If you are coming to a newborn’s place, at least, observe basic hygiene.
“Please wash your hands and as much as possible you don’t have to cuddle or kiss the baby. You have greeted the parents, it’s okay. Even if you have to cough where a baby is, you have to observe the basic cough etiquette by coughing into the elbow. If you have a cold as much as possible, stay off,” she said.
Mokuolu urged mothers to ensure that their babies are vaccinated before leaving the hospital.
She also urged mothers to ensure their babies get full complement immunisation.
The American Paediatrics Academy says even parents with health issues should avoid kissing their newborn babies, warning that they could spread cold sores to them.
According to APA, parents or relatives with cold sores should be especially careful not to kiss babies, stressing that their immune systems are not well developed until after about six months old.
“Cold sores are highly contagious. They can spread through saliva, skin-to-skin contact, or by touching an object handled by someone infected with the virus.
“When a child develops a cold sore for the first time (also called primary HSV), the blisters often spread beyond the lips to the mouth and gums. A child may also have a fever, swollen and tender lymph glands, sore throat, irritability, and drooling.
“The virus from cold sores can spread to the eyes, which can lead to HSV keratitis, an infection of the cornea—the clear dome that covers the colored part of the eye. The infection usually heals without damaging the eye, but more severe infections can lead to scarring of the cornea or blindness,” the academy said.
Also speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, a Consultant Paediatrician in the Clinical Services Department of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, Dr. Agatha David also cautioned against unrestricted access of people to newborns.
Dr. David said, “People should treat newborns with respect. Wash and sanitise your hands when paying a visit to a home where there is a new baby. Don’t get too close.
“It is our culture to show love and care to a newborn, but such acts can endanger the life of the baby”.
David, who is a Deputy Director of Research at the institute, urged mothers to stop exposing their newborns to the risk of infection, saying “A baby’s immune system is not properly developed to fight off the infection.