Should I limit contact of infant with a relative diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy?Health & Fitness
My mother in law has just been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. I read that while Bell’s palsy is not contagious, it could be caused by illnesses that are contagious. I have a 2+ month old baby. Should I limit her contact with my child? If yes, for how long? What type of contact should be limited?
You are right. Bell’s Palsy is not contagious, and cannot be transmitted.
However, it’s usually caused by viruses, which can be contagious.
Herpes simplex virus activation is the likeliest cause of Bell’s palsy in most cases. Other possible viral causes include:
- Herpes zoster
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Influenza B
The problem is I have no clue which virus your mum-in-law may have caught, or how long ago she caught the bug, or even if she may still have signs of an on-going viral infection at the moment (eg. any of cough, cold, fever, cold sores on her mouth etc).
So let us work with the known factor – your two-month old child. An infant’s immune system is still developing at one to three months of age.
You will hear slightly different advice from different doctors, but I’d personally have a high threshold for potentially infectious visitors having contact with infants during the first two to three months.
Viruses are transmitted either by physical contact, or by respiratory droplets.
In your shoes, I’d probably follow the same guidelines as that with which I’d treat a potentially infectious person who wants to come near my infant:
- Your mom-in-law should not visit if she’s coughing, sneezing, has a fever or other signs of an infection.
- If she’s definitely healthy, she should wash her hands thoroughly before coming in direct contact with your child.
- She should not kiss your child near the mouth. A baby has died from meningitis transmitted by a kiss before, even if it’s rare.
- You should limit sharing of household items such as towels, drinking glasses, and eating utensils.
I’d certainly feel much more at ease after your child’s three-month mark, when he or she has obtained a couple of vaccinations, and his immunity system is more developed!
Hope that helps!