Infant and Adult Botulism: Its Causes and How to Prevent It

What is it, and what causes it?

Botulism in children can be caused by foods preserved or preserved at home. Maybe you have had fruits or vegetables that someone chose from the garden in the summer so they can be eaten during the winter months.

These foods need to be cooked at very high temperatures to kill germs. If not, bacteria called Clostridium botulinum could cause botulism in people who eat food.

You can not always see, smell or taste these bacteria, but they release toxins.

This toxin travels through the blood to join the nerves that control the muscles. Several hours to a week after eating contaminated food, the person can get sick.

Although it is a rare disease, many parents have heard about it and intuit that it is often related to the consumption of contaminated food.

This disease can be severe and can cause abnormal nervous system functioning, leading to paralysis and weakness.


Botulism is caused by toxins produced by the spore-forming bacteria called Clostridium botulinum.

This occurs when the food is contaminated with spores C botulinum and stored incorrectly. Improper storage allows bacteria to grow and produce toxins.

Outbreaks of botulism have been produced by consuming canned foods at home and food prepared for restaurants, such as wrapped baked potatoes and bottled spices.

Botulism is a rare but severe condition caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves.

The symptoms

They usually start with weakness in the muscles that control the eyes, face, mouth, and throat. This weakness can extend to the neck, arms, torso, and legs.

Botulism can also weaken the muscles involved in breathing, leading to difficulty breathing and even death.

People who receive botulinum toxin injections for aesthetic reasons or medical reasons may be more likely to get botulism if the dose they receive is too large if they are children or weigh less than a typical adult.

People who eat canned foods at home or fermented at home that have not been prepared safely are more likely to become seriously ill. These foods can include many canned vegetables and meats at home and the traditional fermented foods from Alaska.

Many cases of botulism occur in babies, and experts think it is because their digestive systems can not protect them from germs in the way that an older child or an adult’s digestive system can.

Botulism in children occurs if a baby less than one-year-old eats honey, so babies must not eat honey until older.

What does botulism do?

Botulism stops the functioning of the muscles, so someone with botulism needs medical attention immediately.

As the toxin spreads, muscles weaken everywhere. Many people feel dizzy and may vomit or have diarrhea.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Fallen eyelids.
  • Double or blurred vision.
  • Difficulty breathing.

This condition can be mild or severe, often starting with:

  • Constipation.
  • Weakness.
  • Loss of facial expression.
  • A decreased throat reflex.
  • Slow consumption of food
  • General fatigue

The incubation time can range between 3 and 1 month after exposure to spores.

Diagnosis of infant botulism.

The child’s symptoms will help your pediatrician diagnose botulism. The diagnosis can be confirmed more often by finding the toxin in a child’s stool, the stomach contents, or the foods he has eaten. To diagnose, tissue samples can be examined in the laboratory.

What will the doctor do?

After hearing about a person’s symptoms or examining a baby, the doctor will probably read the blood or stool to detect the toxin.

The doctor could also do a spinal tap or other tests to be sure.

Someone with botulism will have to go to the hospital to be watched closely. It may take a long time for the person to improve.

A good part of the treatment is supportive. Children will mostly have to be hospitalized.

They must be well-nourished, the airways must be kept clean, and carefully monitored for respiratory problems.

There may be exceptional cases in which the pediatrician can give the patient intravenous antitoxin that blocks their activity in the bloodstream.

It can help improve the symptoms early in the infectious process. Antibacterials are not helpful in the treatment of most cases.

Although they can be used to manage wound botulism, antibacterial agents should not be used in cases of infant botulism.

Severely ill children may need help breathing, using a mechanical ventilator and eating, feeding tubes, or intravenous feeding.


Although it may take several weeks or months, most cases achieve a complete recovery. In patients where the condition is not treated, the symptoms sometimes progress to the stage where the respiratory muscles stop, causing death from respiratory failure.

How to prevent botulism?

Children are not the ones who keep food, but if their parents do, they can talk to them about safety rules. Moreover, children can also remind adults that babies should not have honey.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that you do not give honey to a baby under one year of age. (Honey is usually a safe food for children one-year-old or older.) There is no vaccine to prevent botulism.

You can prepare food and canned at home more safely by following tips such as:

  1. Boil food for 10 minutes because the toxins are destroyed.
  2. Do not feed the child foods that appear spoiled.
  3. Discard bulky food containers. They may contain gas produced by C botulinum.