Is it Safe for a Newborn to Be Around a Chemo Patient?
Chemotherapy treatments can be difficult for a patient to handle. The treatments can be draining both physically and mentally, making support from friends and family vital. Sadly, fear that their treatment may be harmful to others may deter patients from reaching out to those closest to them. Visitors to the patients may have these same fears.
Fortunately, patients and visitors can rest assured that contact with family and friends both during and after treatment is safe, even for the tiniest newborn visitors, with a few safety precautions in place.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) says for most chemotherapy treatments it is safe for a newborn to be present during treatment. However, some facilities do not allow newborns or children under 13 in the treatment areas. If a newborn is present for treatment, a caregiver other than the patient would need to be present.
The chemotherapy patient will not be able to hold the newborn during the treatment. The caregiver will need to keep the newborn away from any treatment equipment and listen to instructions from the medical staff.
Most treatments do not require isolation from family members or newborns. However, according to the ACS, chemotherapy drugs will remain in the patient’s system for 48 hours. The patient may not feel like themselves and need some space.
After 48 hours, the patient should have expelled most of the chemotherapy drugs from their body and with them the newborn’s risk of exposure.
Precautions For Newborns
The danger for newborns comes from the chemotherapy drugs. These drugs will be expelled from the patient’s body for 48 hours in the patient’s bodily fluids, making it important to keep them away from the newborn. A newborn will not be in danger from touching a chemo patient unless bodily fluids are present.
Therefore, the ACS suggests the chemo patient take the following precautions for 48 hours post treatment: flushing the toilet twice after use, washing hands thoroughly after going to the restroom, cleaning any area with hot and soapy water that urine, feces or vomit comes into contact with, and sealing away any clothes in plastic bags that have bodily fluids on them and washing them separately from other clothing.
The chemo patient’s health should be considered as well. Chemo patients have weakened immune systems making them more susceptible to illness and disease. A newborn or family members with even a mild cold should stay clear of the patient.
The patient may also have a lack of energy or feel tired. Consider speaking with the patient to ensure that he is feeling up to having the newborn around.
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