My Story - Baby Isabelle

Joanna & Isabelle

On 30 April 2010 Isabelle and her twin sister Charlotte were born 7 weeks early by emergency c-section and both spent 18 days in NICU and special care.  Isabelle suffered breathing difficulties immediately after birth and spent some time on a ventilator until she was able to breathe unaided.

Throughout the winter of 2010/11 it seemed like Isabelle was constantly ill.  She had been backwards and forwards to our GP with coughs, colds and wheezing and had tried a variety of treatments including repeated courses of antibiotics, steroids and inhalers.  In February, when Isabelle was 10 months old, I had decided enough was enough and had arranged for her to see a consultant paediatrician to get to the bottom of what was continually making her ill.

A couple of days before the appointment Isabelle was miserable and off her food but this was not particularly unusual.  She vomited up her tea and bedtime bottle and went straight to sleep when I put her to bed.  At around 10pm Isabelle woke up severely distressed.  Her breathing was very rapid and wheezy and she was sick again.  I telephoned NHS Direct and asked whether she needed to be taken to A&E or whether she could wait to see our GP the following morning, or the paediatrician a couple of days later.  NHS Direct sent a rapid response paramedic to our house and within 10 minutes of my call Isabelle was hooked up to a nebuliser to help her breath. 

The paramedic was followed a few minutes later by an ambulance and it was decided that Isabelle should go to hospital.  As I prepared what Isabelle and I needed for a night in A&E it did not occur to me that we would be in for a long stay.  

When we arrived at the hospital Isabelle was given another nebuliser and seemed better.  Unfortunately the doctors were not happy with her heart rate and the amount of oxygen she was taking in and it was decided that she should be admitted.  Because Isabelle was likely to be contagious, she needed to be kept in isolation rather than on a ward. 

During the first night in A&E, I had not realised how serious things were and I expected that we would be sent home before the morning. The 11 nights in hospital that followed were fairly horrendous.  She had regular nebulisers, oxygen support and a drip to ensure that she did not become dehydrated as she was not eating and continued to vomit after taking a bottle. Tests confirmed that Isabelle had Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the virus which commonly causes bronchiolitis. She was also seen by a paediatric respiratory specialist who made sure that she was receiving the best treatment for suspected asthma. 

Since Isabelle's time in hospital she has gone from strength to strength and she is now a lively two year old.  She continued to suffer from coughs, colds and wheezing throughout the winter of 2011/12 and had a further bout of bronchiolitis when she was 20 months old in December 2011.  Although not particularly unwell on this occasion, I have learnt to recognise some of the signs of bronchiolitis (fast shallow breathing, sucking in the skin between her ribs and flared nostrils) and I took her to see our GP.  He was concerned about Isabelle's oxygen levels and sent us off to A&E where she was given a nebuliser and then sent home, where she quickly recovered.  

It is hoped that as Isabelle is now older and stronger - and her lungs are now better developed - she is less likely to suffer from such severe bronchiolitis again.   Asthma remains an ongoing concern but thankfully she Isabelle has been much better over the past six months.

My message to other parents is don't take any chances and get your baby seen by a doctor if they are unwell.  Use your instincts as a parent as you will know when something is wrong.

I don't recall being told about prevention strategies so education among parents, especially those with high risk babies, needs to improve.


In most cases bronchiolitis is not a severe illness. However, 3% of babies with bronchiolitis are admitted to hospital every year in the UK.

This is a story of a parent whose child has had a severe case of bronchiolitis.  They have chosen to share their story to help other parents understand more about bronchiolitis and how serious it can sometimes be.

This parent story (or 'case study') contains general information and is provided for guidance only. It does not constitute medical advice relating to a specific medical matter. AbbVie makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of each parent story, including the quality and accuracy of it. You should not act upon the information contained in this parent story unless you have obtained professional medical advice in relation to the specific situation and you are strongly advised to consult a medical professional in relation to the matters contained in this parent story. The views and opinions expressed in this parent story are the views and opinions of the featured parent only and do not reflect the views of AbbVie.

AXSYN110959l(2)d - 03 September 2013

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