Why Visitors Shouldn’t Kiss Your Newborn On The Lips

Why Visitors Shouldn't Kiss Your Newborn On The Lips

A mother has taken to Facebook to raise awareness of the risks involved with kissing babies on the lips.

UK mother Clare Henderson spoke out after her baby, Brooke, contracted oral herpes from a well intentioned visitor.

Oral herpes, though not serious in adults, can be fatal in newborn babies. The HSV-1 virus which causes cold sores can result in high fevers, seizures, liver damage and brain damage in very young babies.

Some babies are born with an immunity to the virus, but for those who aren’t, the risks can be severe.

Clare noticed some sores on her baby’s mouth and told a friend who advised her to seek medical attention immediately.

She headed straight to hospital and was told by doctors she’d done the right thing.

Brooke had developed sores around her mouth as well as in her throat.

Doctors placed Brooke on an anti-viral drip for five days, and is fortunately back to health. After the event, Clare decided she should use the experience to raise awareness of the dangers of the cold sore virus to young babies.

Clare shared photos of her baby daughter’s sores in a Facebook post warning other parents about the risks. The post has been shared over 40,000 times, and has made many other new and expectant parents aware of the issue.

In the post, Brooke’s mama explains, “The moral of the story is DO NOT let anyone kiss your newborns mouth, even if they don’t look like they have a cold sore – 85% of the population carry the virus. And if someone had a cold sore ask them to stay away until it has gone. Everyone who I have spoken to had not heard of this before and so I felt it was important to share Brooke’s story and raise awareness to stop anyone else going through what we have this week.”

BellyBelly’s medical health expert, Doctor Andrew Orr, says: “Not everyone has herpes, but it does make sense to be vigilant. You need to have the active disease present, or an outbreak for this to happen. The person who had it would have known. Some babies are immune, because the mother has the virus. But this story is a bit alarmist. Yes, herpes is one of the most dangerous viruses to a newborn. Just be careful and let’s not go overboard here. We’re already hearing about new parents preventing anyone enter a home unless they are vaccinated etc, so let’s not have them banning visitors altogether for fear of this happening too. These are rare cases, but we do know this can happen. Just tell your family to be careful. Word it nicely. I am sure there are ways to do this without isolating yourself as a new parent.”

How To Protect Your Baby From The Herpes Virus

The risk of your baby catching the HSV-1 virus is low, but it’s still worth implementing rules that could protect your baby from this potentially life threatening virus. There are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of your baby contracting herpes, including:

#1: No Kisses From People With Cold Sores

The HSV-1 virus can be transmitted through saliva. If you have a cold sore, it’s important you don’t kiss your baby. The same rule should apply to anyone else who comes into contact with your baby.

#2: Enforce Hand Washing

Ask friends and family to wash their hands before touching the baby, and make sure you and your partner both regularly wash your hands throughout the day. This one is important to stop the spread of other germs too, so is definitely worth implementing if you have a newborn baby in the house. Keep a bottle of hand sanitiser in the living room, and politely ask guests to use some before you hand over your precious bundle of joy.

#3: Keep Cold Sores At Bay

While If you don’t want to take any risks, ask friends and family members to postpone visiting the new baby until they are cold sore free. Many people take this approach to other illnesses, and while it may not be commonplace to apply the same rule to cold sores, you get to set the rules when it comes to your own baby. But remember, oral herpes is transmitted via infected saliva, mucous membranes, or skin.

Recommended Reading

Check out BellyBelly’s article 10 Big Tips For Visiting A New Baby – And Being Asked Back!

Last Updated: September 28, 2015


Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.

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