Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

A to Z: Botulism, Infant

May also be called: Botulism

Botulism (BAH-chu-lih-zum) is a rare but serious illness caused by poisons produced by Clostridium botulinumbacteria. Infant botulism happens when a baby takes in C. botulinum spores (cells made by bacteria), which can grow in the digestive system and produce toxins.

More to Know

Clostridium botulinum bacteria can be found in soil and dust. If a person gets infected, the bacteria make toxins that make nerves not work as they should, leading to weakness and paralysis.

Symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, trouble swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. In infants, symptoms include constipation, a flat facial expression, poor feeding, a weak cry, decreased movement, trouble swallowing, excessive drooling, muscle weakness, and breathing problems.

If not treated, botulism can cause respiratory (breathing) failure, paralysis, and death. Botulism is usually treated in a hospital with an antitoxin that blocks the toxins produced by the bacteria. In some cases, a breathing machine (ventilator) may be used to help with breathing.

Keep in Mind

Infant botulism can be fatal. Any child who shows signs of the disease should get medical care right away. Fortunately, infant botulism is extremely rare, with about 100 cases reported in the United States each year. With early diagnosis and proper medical care, most babies fully recover from the illness.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.