Monday, January 24, 2011

Intestinal Infant Botulism- How to Avoid This Deadly Disease

What is it? A rare yet deadly food borne illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum. An infant can contract this disease by eating infected foods.

How common is it? In the U.S. there is an average of 145 cases reported each year. Of the three types of botulism 65% are contracted by infants.  Some studies suggest that infant botulism may be the cause of 5% of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Signs and Symptoms: If left untreated, these symptoms may progress and cause paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk, and respiratory muscles and eventually death.
  • Constipation
  • Appearing lethargic
  • Feeding poorly
  • Having difficulty swallowing
  • Weak crying
  • Poor muscle tone (“floppy baby,” can’t hold up head)
How is it treated? If caught in time, Botulinum Immune Globulin (BIG) is given to the baby to neutralize the toxin.

How to prevent Infant Botulism? Honey can be a source of botulism spores, and should not be given to babies under 12 months of age. Never eat food out of a can that hasn’t been properly canned, or a can that looks swelled/inflated.

To learn more about infant botulism visit http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0401/p1388.html
*picture taken from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/content/knowhow/glossary/honey/image.jpg

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