Botulism in Infants
Alternate Names : Infant Botulism
Botulism is a condition caused by a toxin made by bacteria
called Clostridium botulinum. This toxin triggers sudden,
and paralysis. Infant botulism is usually seen in babies younger than
6 months old.
What is going on in the body?
In adults, botulism occurs only after eating foods that contain
the full-blown toxin.
In infants, tiny spores from the bacteria that would not be harmful to
an adult can grow in the baby's gut.
Once there, they mature and release toxins.
These toxins enter the bloodstream and are carried to the
ends of the nerves that control muscles. They block the release of a
chemical called acetylcholine that transmits signals from nerves to
muscles. If this chemical is not released at the right time, the muscle
cannot contract. This causes muscle weakness
The diaphragm is a strong layer of muscle below the lungs.
If nerves in the diaphragm are blocked, the baby will not be able to breathe.
If untreated, this can cause death.
What are the causes and risks of the infection?
The Clostridium botulinum bacteria makes one of the most
poisonous substances known to man. Just a small amount of the
toxin it produces can be fatal. Some sources of the bacteria and its
honey, which should never be fed to babies younger than age 12 months
soil, which can infect a wound
canned or home-preserved foods that were not cooked enough to
destroy the spores