This Is Why You Should Never Ever Kiss a Newborn

baby meningitis from kiss
Nicole Sifrit/Facebook

It's something many parents of newborns want to scream over and over again: Please do NOT kiss my baby. But so often, we're made to feel like we're overreacting or being rude to people who adore our babies and have only the best intentions. That's why heartbroken mom Nicole Sifrit is begging people to do more to protect their newborns after her 18-day-old daughter, Mariana, passed away from meningitis she likely contracted via a kiss from a well-meaning loved one.

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According to WHO-TV, Nicole and her husband, Shane, welcome Mariana to the world on July 1 and wed six days later with their daughter by their side. But their July 7 wedding ceremony was cut short when they realized Mariana wasn't eating and refused to wake up. They rushed their newborn to Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, where she was diagnosed with meningitis caused by HSV-1, the form of the herpes virus that causes cold sores, which doctors say she probably contracted after being kissed by someone who is a carrier.

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Within hours, Sifrit tells WHO-TV, her daughter's organs started to fail. She and her husband stayed by their daughter's side and posted regular health updates to Facebook. "Today we were told that if Mariana's liver can't repair itself she won't be able to survive," the mom wrote in a July 16 post. "At this time we don't know that outcome, the only way to determine this is watch the labs, watch the numbers, and pray."


Nicole Sifrit/Facebook

Sadly, Mariana passed away just two days later, on July 18. A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Sifrits with expenses, and now the couple are speaking out in hopes that their story can save another baby's life.


Nicole Sifrit/Facebook

HSV-1, the form of herpes that causes cold sores, is a fairly common illness. The World Health Organization estimates that a whopping 67 percent of the world's population has HSV-1, including 40-50 percent of Americans. Cold sores are the obvious giveaway, but the problem is the disease can also be asymptomatic, meaning many people don't even realize they're carriers.

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Both Nicole Sifrit and her husband tested negative for the virus, meaning it was a well-meaning friend or family member -- one who likely didn't know he or she was carrying the virus -- who passed it on to newborn Mariana.

Infants infected with HSV-1 don't always develop meningitis. Dr. Amaran Moodley, an Iowa pediatric disease specialist who spoke with the Des Moines Register, says only about 10 of the roughly 40,000 babies born in Iowa each year contract HSV-1, and fewer die from it. Still, the risk of infection exists nationwide, and that's why Nicole Sifrit wants other moms and dads to take precautions with their newborn babies.

"Keep your babies isolated. Don't let just anyone come visit them," Nicole told WQAD. "Make sure they are constantly washing their hands. Don't let people kiss your baby and make sure they ask before they pick up your baby."

For new parents, the pressure to let people touch, snuggle, and kiss our new babies can sometimes be overwhelming. But, as Mariana's heartbreaking story proves, we really can't ever be too careful when it comes to the health of newborns.

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