Mom worries about measles hitting her newborn


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Neala Horstmann laughs out loud a lot, is starting to roll over and loves Sebastian, her big brother. Neala, who is 4 months old, likes to chew on everything and “be part of the conversation,” her mom, Sarah Horstmann said.

Sarah Horstmann is a Portland mom who worries about measles infecting her newborn, January 29, 2019 (KOIN)

As the measles outbreak in Washington and Oregon continues — with almost all of the cases in unvaccinated children — parents with newborns are understandably concerned. Sarah admits it’s worrisome.

“My husband and I and our 5-year-old have been vaccinated, but there’s not much we can do for the baby,” she told KOIN 6 News. “My 5-year-old is in skateboarding lessons and swimming lessons and those are activities with other children and I guess children are the biggest risk right now, children that haven’t been vaccinated.”

As of Tuesday, there are 36 confirmed cases in Washington — 35 of them in Clark County — with another dozen suspected cases. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency over the measles outbreak.

“Over 95% of babies who get the shot at 12 months of age are protected against measles and over 99% are protected for a lifetime after the 2nd dose (given at least 1 month later).” — Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson with Seattle Children’s Hospital

Sarah said she wasn’t overly worried about the measles and thought it might be like the chicken pox. 

“I mean, everyone that I know of that’s my age has been vaccinated and I think it was pretty much eradicated in 2000,” she said. 

Neala Horstmann, 4 months old, smiles inside her Portland home, January 29, 2019 (KOIN)

After she did more research, though — “super rare instances death, but also blindness and deafness, the illness in general is pretty severe too” — she became a little more worried.

“We were just at OMSI a couple days before the last reported case at OMSI this past weekend,” she said. “That was a little unnerving.”

But the Horstmanns are planning a trip to Missouri in about 6 weeks, and Neala won’t be 6 months old until after their trip is over.

“For Babies Under 6 Months of Age: If a baby’s mother has had her MMR shots and/or had measles infection in her life she passed antibodies to her baby during fetal development while in-utero and continues to pass them passively while breastfeeding. Those antibodies provide protection for young infants and typically are thought to protect infants for up to 6 months or more. The reason babies don’t get the MMR shot sooner than a year of age is because of the persistence of these maternal antibodies — if you put a vaccine in while maternal antibodies are still around the vaccine won’t stimulate the baby’s own immune system to respond, it will just get soaked up by the maternal antibodies doing their job.” — Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson with Seattle Children’s Hospital

Their doctor did not say to cancel their trip, though. “She actually said she’s less worried about measles exposure in the Midwest than she is on the West Coast,” Sarah said.

She’s trying to find balance in their day-to-day life and do what she can to protect her baby. 

“I am worried, but you know, but we have to live our lives, too. I have to go to the grocery store to buy food. I have to pick up my son from school. So there’s things that I have to do that I just try to suppress that worry as much as I can.”

“Okay To Go To The Grocery Or Have A Playdate With Your Infant?  Yes! With a few caveats, of course. If you’re in a county where multiple cases of active measles have been recently reported (Southern California, Orange County, for example has had 22 cases alone) you may take more caution disallowing strangers to hold your baby and/or steering clear of anyone with a cough.” — Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson with Seattle Children’s Hospital

Like most parents, Sarah Horstmann is doing her best to keep her kids safe and healthy for one simple reason.

“She’s my everything,” she said. “That’s what her little onesie says: My sun, my moon, my stars.”

Neala Horstmann, 4 months old, smiles inside her Portland home, January 29, 2019 (KOIN)

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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