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Children's Health

Croup

11/19/1996

Question:

My 4 year old daughter has croup, per DR. visit today. We also have a 7 week old in the house. My wife breastfeeds 1-2 times per day (before and after work), and bottle feeds rest of day at day care. What steps can we take to ensure she does not catch croup? What signs should we look for in the 7 week old as my 4 year old has been touching her this past weekend (before the croup diagnosis)? If our 7 week old has symptoms of croup, should we take to DR. immediately?

My 4 year old is now on Amoxicillin, Robitussin Pediatric Cough and Cold, and Children's Motrin. She has had just one dose of each since returning home. How long before she is "safe" from infecting our 7 week old?

Thank you - and this is a GREAT service.

Answer:

Croup can be either viral or bacterial in origin. If your four year old daughter shows significant improvement in 24 hours after taking her antibiotic of Amoxicillin, then she did probably have some type of bacterial infection that has responded well to her antibiotic. If her symptoms did not improve dramatically after the antibiotic was started, it is likely that she had a viral infection and could be still contagious. It is good that your wife is still breastfeeding and the young age of your infant affords her some temporary passive immunity both from her breast milk and her mother's antibodies that will make her less at risk for infections during your infant's first six months of life. Although we do not usually see croup in babies less than 3 months of age, babies can still get various types of other respiratory infections. Make sure Your infant's little nose is kept clean of secretions because babies tend to breathe primarily out of their nose the first six months. You can clean the nose with the bulb syringe you may have brought home from the hospital or with a twisted, dampened end of a washcloth. Should your baby start to sound stuffy, try having mom breast feed a few more minutes or follow her formula with some water. Make sure she gets adequate sleep. Stressing thorough handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent infection for all of you and your four your old daughter. If either of your children develop the croupy, barky cough, sit with them in the bathroom with the steam from the shower running or take them out on the porch in the cool night air as these techniques help to reduce the swelling of the throat. In addition, raise the head of the bed with your older child by providing an extra pillow or put a telephone book under your infant's mattress at the head of the bed. By raising the head of the bed, respiratory symptoms often improve. Because your children attend day care, they both will be more exposed this winter to more illnesses. Contact your health care provider with a temperature of 100.5 and green or yellowish colored nasal secretions which should normally be clear with a simple cold. Other symptoms of croup include pulling in of the skin on the chest wall, difficulty breathing or pale skin color. Good Luck!

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Response by:

Marcia   Hern, RN, EdD Marcia Hern, RN, EdD
Formerly:
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati