Claim: A post by a twitter user, @FirstDoctor claims that kissing a baby on lips or face causes oral herpes. Verdict: True Full Story On the 26th July, 2023 a tweep tweeted: ‘Don’t let people kiss your baby on the lips or face even if it’s just a peck. A baby’s immune
Claim: A post by a twitter user, @FirstDoctor claims that kissing a baby on lips or face causes oral herpes.
On the 26th July, 2023 a tweep tweeted: ‘Don’t let people kiss your baby on the lips or face even if it’s just a peck. A baby’s immune system is not as strong as that of adults, so they can easily come down with infections like herpes.’
This tweet, which has caught the attention of many, had 6,191 retweets, 240 quotes, 5,843 likes, and 657 views at press time. See the tweet below:
But what does herpes mean? According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), there are two types of herpes: Genital and Oral Herpes. The Genital herpes is a Sexuallly Transmitted Disease(STD) caused by two types of viruses – herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).
In its report, the CDC indicated that the oral herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV -1) and this most often results in cold sores or fever blisters on or around the mouth. However, most people with oral herpes do not have any symptoms. Most people with oral herpes get it during childhood or young adulthood from non-sexual contact with saliva.
The post has been cited flying around on WhatsApp and other social media spaces. For instance, while a twitter user @IphieSpone feels it can’t be for black, another twitter user @xclusive_story believes people need to be sensitised more on this. Hence, these reactions are justifications for checking the veracity of the claim to educate and give accurate reports on the outcome.
To check the veracity of the claim, we refer to a report by UTSouthwestern Medical Centre, which observes that the HSV-1, or oral herpes infection typically happens through contact from an infected person’s with a region in an organ or tissue which has suffered damage through injury or disease. Such a wound called lesion can occur to a membrane area of the baby’s body, such as the eyes or mouth.
According to the report, this can happen if a person with a cold sore kiss the baby or, even more rarely, if the individual touches a cold sore and then touches the baby. It is also revealed that the symptoms are felt in the recurrent sores on the skin, eyes, genitals, or mouth.
Again, aaccording to the UK’s National Health Service, (NHS), the herpes common to new born babies is known as neonatal herpes through simplex virus that is passed to a baby and can result in a cold sore if a person has a cold sore kisses the baby.
As revealed by the NHS, a baby is most at risk of getting herpes infection in the first 4 weeks after birth with the symptoms ranging from a rash or sores on the skin, eyes and inside the mouth.
Similarly, in the Nigerian Tribune’s edition of 27th July, 2019, titled: ‘Why kissing babies on the lips is dangerous —Experts, Professor Regina Oladokun, a consultant paediatrician, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, said it is not encouraging that babies be kissed especially those very young babies, “the same way we do not even encourage those people, including relatives, to carry them anyhow because their immunity is low”, she added.
Nigerian Tribune, in its report also cited the experience shared by Claire Henderson, a mother in Doncaster of the United Kingdom who posted the pictures of her 18-day-old baby hospitalised with cold sores from the herpes virus.
The Tribune’s findings show that the baby had been kissed near the lips and doctors found the herpes virus on her chin, cheeks, and lips. According to the report, the child was admitted to hospital and was there for many days fighting with the virus spreading across her body.
According to the Nigerian Tribune’s investigation, Dr. Olutosin Awolude, a Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecologist at the hospital also stated that since herpes zoster can affect the skin, kissing a newborn may cause a newborn to contract many diseases, including HIV and herpes zoster.
According to credible sources cited above, more than half of the population has herpes without even knowing it. However, new babies are more vulnerable to the infection especially when they are exposed to the touching or kissing of an infected person, indicating that the claim of the twitter user is correct.