The most common symptoms of food poisoning in babies are:
- Loss of appetite and a parched mouth
- Excessive irritability in babies and fussiness that may be an indication of abdominal pain
- Fever that can cross 100 or 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Blood in stool
- Swollen and hard belly
- Dark yellow urine
- Loose motion or constipation
Once the symptoms show up – generally after two to 48 hours from the intake of the harmful substance – doctors may prescribe blood tests, stool tests, and may even examine the concerned food samples.
The most common food-borne infections are causes by a group of viruses called Noroviruses; and bacteria like Campylobacter (transmitted through undercooked poultry, unpasteurized milk, and contaminated water), Salmonella (present in raw or undercooked eggs, poultry and meat, raw milk, dairy products, and seafood), and E Coli (transmitted through food or water that’s contaminated with microscopic amounts of cow faeces).
Botulism, a severe care of food poisoning, can even prove to be fatal for babies. In extreme cases, if left untreated, Botulism can lead to muscle and respiratory paralysis.
Caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, it is most often transmitted through improperly canned or preserved food like home-canned vegetables, cured pork and ham, smoked or raw fish, honey, and corn syrup.
The symptoms include constipation, weakness (loss of muscle tone, weak cry, and weak sucking), droopy eyelids, and poor feeding due to difficulty swallowing.
Make sure that your baby is not getting dehydrated when he is suffering from food poisoning. The doctors may suggest periodic administration of over-the-counter oral electrolyte solutions to replace the loss of salt and minerals from the body.
Some pre-emptive steps that can be taken at home to avoid such poisoning are:
- Always wash hands with warm water and disinfectants before preparing food or after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper
- Make sure you wash your baby’s hands often as well
- Rinse meat, poultry, and fish thoroughly before cooking it
- Wash all kitchen surfaces well afterward with hot, soap water, and disinfectants
- Defrost food in the refrigerator, not on the counter top or in the sink
- Don’t eat meat, poultry, or fish that has been refrigerated uncooked for more than one or two days
- Don’t use outdated food, packaged food that has a broken seal, or cans that are dented or misshapen
- Don’t leave food outside the refrigerator for more than an hour before eating or drinking it
- When reheating food, be sure to do so thoroughly – don’t just warm it
- Keep hot food hot and cold food cold before eating it
- Don’t give your child unpasteurized juice or cheese
Although food poisoning can be caused by the smallest of small organisms and ensuring a full-proof microbe-free house may not be possible in all cases, but observing these basic guidelines would go a long way in maintaining the minimum level of hygiene in the house, and reducing the chances of infection.