CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
The common cold is an infection of the nose and throat (upper respiratory tract infection) that can be caused by one of more than 100 viruses. The rhinovirus and coronavirus are common culprits and are highly contagious.
Once your baby has been infected by a virus, he or she generally becomes immune to that specific virus. But because there are so many viruses that cause colds, your baby may have several colds a year and many throughout his or her lifetime. Also, there are some viruses that don't produce lasting immunity.
A common cold virus enters your baby's body through his or her mouth or nose. Your baby may be infected with such a virus by:
- Air. When someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks, he or she may directly spread the virus to your baby.
- Direct contact. The common cold can spread when someone who is sick touches his or her mouth or nose and then touches your baby's hand. Your baby can then become infected by touching his or her own eyes, nose or mouth.
- Contaminated surfaces. Some viruses can live on surfaces for two hours or longer. Your baby may catch a virus by touching a contaminated surface, such as a toy.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Long SS, et al. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier Saunders; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-2702-9..00301-9&isbn=978-1-4377-2702-9&uniqId=399011628-4#4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-2702-9..00301-9. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Children's OTC cough and cold medicines. Consumer Healthcare Products Association. http://chpa-info.org/issues/Childrens_CC_Overview.aspx. Accessed March 11, 2013.
- When to call the baby's doctor: Print-and-go guide. National Women's Health Information Center. http://search.hhs.gov/search?q=When+to+call+a+baby%27s+doctor&btnG.x=0&btnG.y=0&site=oash_wh&entqr=3&ud=1&sort=date%3AD%3AL%3Ad1&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&lr=lang_en&client=oash_wh&proxystylesheet=oash_wh&proxyreload=1. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Facts about the common cold. American Lung Association. http://www.lungusa.org/lung-disease/influenza/in-depth-resources/facts-about-the-common-cold.html. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Symptom relief. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/symptom-relief.html. Accessed March 7, 2013.