State Rep. Doug Overbey gained passage recently in the House for his legislation that would raise awareness of about respiratory syncytial virus (“RSV”) in newborn infants. House Bill 3865, as amended, passed the House unanimously, and requires the state Perinatal Advisory Committee to work with the pediatric physicians across the state to develop standards for the dissemination of information and educational material about RSV.
“RSV presents a significant risk for premature babies and is the leading viral cause of infant mortality in Tennessee,” Overbey said. “In an adult RSV is known as a chest cold, but to a premature infant, whose lungs have not fully developed, RSV can be fatal.”
Overbey said he was pleased his colleagues in the House unanimously passed the legislation. “It’s important for factual information and sound educational materials to be disseminated about conditions and diseases, such as RSV, that affect newborn infants, particularly premature babies. This bill is an important step forward in regard to the health and wellbeing of newborns in our state,” Overbey said.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health’s website, in 2006 Tennessee’s infant mortality rate of 8.7 per 1,000 live births exceeded the provisional national rate of 6.6 by 31.8 percent. The infant death rate for premature babies in Tennessee for the same year was 44.0 per 1,000 live births, as compared to 3.2 per 1,000 live births for normal gestation babies. (The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of infants under one year of age per 1,000 live births in a given population.)
“While infant mortality is not something we like to think about, these statistics bear out that this is an important issue in our state, and we need to provide expectant and new parents with sound, reliable information about RSV and other diseases that affect newborns,” Overbey added.
For more information on infant mortality in Tennessee, please see www.tennessee.gov/health/infantmortality.