The Disturbing Dangers Of Kissing Babies On The Lips Exposed Through One Mom’s Gigantic Scare

Janice Malcolm - Author
By

Sep. 24 2015, Updated 8:16 p.m. ET

Should a parent kiss their child on the lips? Should a friend of the family kiss a baby on the lips? At what age does it become inappropriate? Something about kissing babies just seems to make a person super affectionate, even politicians use it on the campaign trail. The questions and the actions of a kiss have a long history in our culture though, and sadly one mom found out the answer to one of those questions, the hard way.

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Her baby developed a serious health condition after a family friend placed a kiss on the newborn’s lips that could have turned deadly. In an effort to educate other mothers, the mom posted some pictures along with her grim tale to Facebook. Claire Henderson’s daughter, Brooke, is now happy and healthy but Claire says that was not the case for the three-month-old shortly after she was born. In a rare turn of events, the baby contracted the Herpes Simplex virus after a tiny, well meaning kiss from a friend who visited her in the hospital after she gave birth.

While feeding her daughter one night, Henderson said she noticed the sores on her daughter’s lips and also that her lips were swollen. She immediately took the baby to the hospital. Doctors confirmed the gravity of the situation and said she was right to have acted so quickly.

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“I’ve read other stories where there have been babies who die from the herpes virus. It’s really scary that it’s not more publicized.”

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Fortunately when the first signs of ill-health popped up on young Brooke, Claire already knew what to look for and sought help. Now she’s asking others to share her story so that they might have the chance to save another baby should this happen to them. One of Henderson’s friends had shared a similar story with her when she was still pregnant and she said it had scared her to learn how a simple thing like a cold sore infection could actually kill an infant. The mom shared photos of her daughter’s symptoms along with the tale of the five horrifying days baby Brooke had to spend in the hospital on an anti-viral drip.

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Buzzfeed News was told by Dr. Bonnie Maldonado, a Stanford University professor of pediatric infectious diseases, that though rare, the case is very serious. Contracting a cold sore within the first two months of its life can lead an infant to developing serious neurological conditions with death being the worst case scenario. Dr. Maldonado also went on to explain why the instances are so rare, saying that most babies have antibodies from their mothers and this is why the risk is low.

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“It’s one of these diseases that we are really vigilant for, but it’s so rare.”

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She Knows says that according to World Health Organizations statistics, cold sores are generally caused by the herpes simplex virus — type 1 (HSV-1), are highly contagious and are usually contracted by mouth to mouth contact. Estimations put cases of untreated neonatal herpes infections as being 60 percent fatal, while usually older children and adults just get an embarrassing lip sore. Henderson says her friend displayed no outward signs of having a cold sore when the visit and kiss took place though. Of course that’s the really scary part, HSV-1 can still be spread even if a person shows absolutely no symptoms or sores on their lips. In fact both HSV-1 and HSV-2 (the virus that causes genital herpes) can be passed on from a mother to her baby during childbirth.

It is very important that parents be extremely vigil during their child’s first few months of life, be careful of any kiss they receive and kept out of public spaces for at least a month.

The Facebook post of Claire Henderson’s “kiss of death” story has since been shared over 36,000 times and the mom hopes that it can help make a difference to anyone in a similar scenario.

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“I really hope that it has raised awareness and can help other parents recognize the signs to act quickly if their baby contracts it, too.”

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[Photos Courtesy of Claire Henderson’s Facebook]

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