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After their newborn dies from a loving kiss, her parents share an important message


Nicole Sifrit | Facebook

Cerith Gardiner - published on 07/20/17

Almost 50% of the population has a virus that could be fatal for a brand new baby

When a friend or family member has a new baby, our first instinct is to thank God and the next is to grab our keys and rush to that hospital to shower mom, dad, and the newborn in kisses. But we forget how fragile and susceptible to germs newborns really are, having been protected in their mother’s womb for months.

Sadly, this week, the death of a tiny 18-day-old baby, Mariana Sifrit, from a simple kiss reminded us all of what can happen when we let our emotions trump sense and precaution.

When Mariana was born on the 1st of July, her parents, Nicole and Shane, were full of hope for a wonderful future as a family. The parents were married six days later but during the celebration the newlyweds weren’t able to rouse Mariana and she was refusing any milk. The anxious parents went straight to Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa to be told that their tiny baby had contracted meningitis as a result of HSV-1, or more commonly, a Herpes virus that leads to cold sores.

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Doctors explained to the parents, who both tested negative for the virus, that Mariana had likely contracted the virus after a visitor passed it on to her with a kiss — that simple gesture of love and well-meaning. Doctors say that the visitor did not necessarily have an open cold sore but could be a carrier of the virus. As her mom explains: “They touch her and then she touches her mouth with her hand,” that’s enough to pass the virus on.

Once diagnosed, Mariana went straight to NICU, where her father says, “It immediately went downhill from there. Within two hours she had quit breathing and all of her organs just started to fail.” On what should have been a day of joy ended with Mariana fighting for her life.

Mom, Nicole, posted regular updates on her Facebook account which also poignantly gave thanks to her new husband: “A huge thank you to my amazing husband who hasn’t even left my side since June 30 when he took me in for my induction. God sure knew what he was doing when he sent you to me. I’m scared to see the mess I would be without him.”

Tragically, despite her fighting spirit and the dedicated teams of medical professionals caring for her, “Princess” Mariana succumbed to the virus just 11 days later, on July 18. Her mom posted on Facebook:

Nicole Sifrit | Facebook

Nicole has one message to other new parents: “Keep your babies isolated. Don’t let just anyone come visit them,” adding “make sure they are constantly washing their hands. Don’t let people kiss your baby and make sure they ask before they pick up your baby.”

It’s a tricky line, though. No one wants to offend a well-meaning visitor. According to the World Health Organization, more than 3.7 billion of the world’s population is infected by HSV-1, with many people being asymptomatic of this highly contagious disease. In America, alone the WHO estimates 40 to 50 percent of the population has the virus, although other sources put this figure as being much higher, up to 80 percent. That’s a lot of potential risk for any newborn.

Newborn Baby

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Sandra Beltran, a pediatric infectious disease specialist of the Colombian Association of Infectious Diseases, explains that “kissing on the lips is a focus transmitters of diseases.” She explains that a newborn’s, and even an older child’s, weaker immune system makes it imperative to avoid kissing them directly on the mouth. Although this might seem over-the-top, Mariana is not the first newborn to die in such conditions. In 2009, a UK mom passed on the virus to her own newborn who died at just 11 days old, and tragically there other similar stories too.

So for visiting friends and family, please consider that as much as we might want to smother these gorgeous little angels with cuddles and kisses it’s our duty to make sure we bring only our love to the hospital — and perhaps a cute onesie! And for all the new parents out there, please do not feel awkward about passing this message on to all your well-wishers, they will understand.

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