Infant Botulism Treatment Information

By: Juliet Cohen

Infant botulism is an illness that can occur when a newborn ingests bacteria that produce a toxin inside the body. Infant Botulism affects infants primarily between one and 52 weeks of age. The condition can be frightening because it can cause muscle weakness and breathing problems. Infant botulism can occur when a child ingests Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which are found in dirt and dust and can contaminate honey.Infant botulism is considered to be distinct from other types of botulism which differ considerably in the age most commonly affected and in the clinical course. The "food borne" form of botulism most often occurs in adults.

Older children who eat improperly prepared or stored food. A form of botulism can very rarely occur in wounds. Botulism (botulinum toxin) is also of concern as a bioterrorist weapon. The earliest and most common symptom of infant botulism is constipation. Other symptoms include general weakness, a weak cry, a poor sucking reflex, irritability, lack of facial expression, and loss of head control. Symptoms may arise abruptly, in a matter of hours, or they may develop over several days. The progressive weakness usually develops over 1 to 4 days and is often severe enough to bring the baby to medical attention.

Infant botulism can be treated with botulism immune globulin (BIG), which should be started as early in the illness as possible.
The single most effective way to prevent infant botulism is for infants to avoid honey. Honey is safe for people 1 year of age and older. Breast feeding also appears to lessen the severity of botulism cases. The use of a human-derived botulinum antitoxin may also be of benefit. The antitoxin was licensed by the U.S. One of the only things you can do to reduce the risk of botulism is to avoid giving your infant honey or corn syrup before his or her first birthday.

Infant Botulism Treatment and Prevention Tips

1. Given the baby intravenous (IV) fluids to provide nourishment.

2. Botulism can be treated effectively with botulinum antitoxin.

3. The most effective way to prevent infant botulism avoid honey.

4. Breast feeding also appears to lessen the severity of botulism cases.

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