How do I protect my baby from mumps?
The virus of mumps is an airborne virus, which means that it spreads quickly between children and adults unless they have been vaccinated. Mumps is a common childhood illness. Your baby is protected from mumps when he/she has already has this infection or has been vaccinated on time.
Although mumps seldom cause complications, the virus can still be dangerous. It results in the inflammation of the brain or the spinal cord or the pancreas or loss of hearing. The most common complication is the inflammation of the testes, which, in rare cases, can cause infertility. In women, it can cause inflammation of the ovaries, but it is not related to sterility.
Below are a few preventative steps that can be taken at home to prevent mumps:
- Following simple hygienic rules (e.g. washing hands) will protect you and your family from catching the bug.
- Always clean with disinfectants, like bleach-containing domestic cleaning stuff, and ventilate your baby's room properly.
- Change the bedding and clothes of your baby regularly, and do not store it for a long time before washing it in the washing machine.
- Wash and wipe up all surfaces and toys in your house and steam all the dishes and cutlery you use daily to feed your baby.
- Do not let your baby play with things that may have been exposed to the virus or people who are still recovering from mumps (before 7-8 days since the saliva glands got swollen).
- Immunize your baby with vitamins C and E, herbal tea with rosehip, and elecampane but discuss it with your GP first.
- Always check with your nurse or doctor how common mumps is in the country you're planning to travel to with your little one. Have your baby vaccinated if it's necessary.
- Finally, there is nothing more reliable than MMR vaccination (measles, mumps, and rubella).
What is the schedule of the vaccination for mumps?
The vaccination with MMR is carried out in two stages (two doses):
- The first shot is carried out between 12 and 15 months, provided there are no contraindication for the immunization.
- The second shot is conducted between 4-6 years or 11-12 years.
Those who were immunized only with one dose of MMR (born late 1980 to early 1990) should have the second shot of MMR as their immunity to mumps with one dose is not considered to be efficient. These people might be working in educational and health services, thus might be exposed to the virus and contract mumps consequently.
What if my baby has not been vaccinated for mumps and was exposed to the virus?
First of all, report the case to the day care where your child attends and all the mothers whose children might be in close contact with yours. Do this immediately right before the symptoms develop. Then call your GP and discuss further tactics according to your baby's medical records.
If your baby had been vaccinated just once before the case, then the vaccination with the second dose of MMR after the exposure to the virus is a good protection for the disease and it's not harmful at all.
Also, it doesn't automatically follow that anyone who had a contact with an infected person will immediately suffer from mumps.
If, unfortunately, you come down with mumps while pregnant, which is very unusual, you are not allowed to get an MMR shot.
If your baby has already come down with mumps, he/she is not going to suffer from it again.
What should I do if I think my baby has developed mumps?
It is common for a child to get mumps especially if the child has not been vaccinated. Children can easily catch mumps by being around an infected person or touching something that has virus on it. For example, children can catch mumps from being exposed to the cough of an infected person, or if they play with toys that have been touched by an infected person. The child can bring the toy near the mouth or nose and get infected with the virus.
Take your child immediately to the doctor. The doctors are expected to report even the mildest cases of mumps to the health care department to control the spread of the disease. There's also a chance that the swelling might be caused by other bacterial or viral infection, so the decision should be better left for the doctor to diagnose.
Mumps take about to 2 weeks to cure but there is no particular treatment involved.
- Give the child plenty fluids and avoid acidic food or tart drinks like lemonade and orange juice as they make swallowing difficult.
- Over-the-counter medicine, like acetaminophen, can be given to provide relief from the pain of the swelling. However, medicine like aspirin should not be given as it can lead to Reyes syndrome - even liver failure or death in some cases.
- Tie a wet, smooth towel around the neck of child suffering from mumps for soothing purpose.
What are the signs that parents should look for?
Check if the child has developed stiff neck, vomiting, or listlessness. Other symptoms include: sudden rise in the body temperature, trouble breathing, choking, or if the child's skin turns blue. Notice if the child complains about abdominal pain, it could involve pancreas or testes in boys and ovarian in girls. Call the doctor immediately for emergency because these symptoms might signal some complications.
Mumps involve brain and membranes; hence, it is necessary to call the doctor if you think your child has been exposed to a virus.
However prevention is always better than cure. Get the child vaccinated with two shots of MMR. A single shot of the vaccine makes it less likely to protect the child form mumps. It is unusual for a child who has been vaccinated against the disease can still get infected afterwards. Vaccination gives lifelong protection.
Getting proper medical advice is of utmost importance. Take your baby to the doctor in order to keep the him/her healthy and happy.