Dr. Agatha David, a consultant paediatrician at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, revealed that kissing a newborn on the lips or any part of the face can lead to meningitis, a viral infection caused by herpes.
She warned parents against allowing outsiders to carry their newborns, especially within the first one month of life, noting that their immune system is still very fragile to fight off pathogens or environmental germs.
She, however, adds that some adults have blisters on the side of their lips caused by Herpes Simplex virus, and can also have it transmitted to a newborn through their breath.
The consultant also explained that meningitis is an inflammation of the fluid and membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, often less severe than bacterial meningitis.
She, however, states that most people get better on their own, but that babies younger than one-month-old are more likely to have a severe illness from viral meningitis.
The paediatrician said:
“A baby’s immune system is not properly developed to fight off the infection. Herpes can be fatal at whatever age and can manifest like blisters or fever burns. Herpes doesn’t clear, as it stays in the body and manifests when the immune system is suppressed.”
“Kissing a baby on the face can cause such an infection that affects even the brain, and can lead to death.”
“People displaying any visible signs of illness or a common cold, cough, runny nose, sore throat, or a rash should not come into close contact with a newborn.”
“People should treat newborns with respect. Wash and sanitize your hands when paying a visit to a home where there is a new baby. Don’t get too close.”
“It is our culture to show love and care to a newborn, but such acts can endanger the life of the baby,” the consultant warned.
Also, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned that herpes virus, which commonly affects the mouth in the form of cold sores, can cause significant infections in newborns.
“Herpes outbreaks can be painful or unsightly in adults; and when a newborn is infected with herpes, serious and, sometimes, fatal complications can occur,” CDC warned.