The Doctors: Infant Botulism From Soil + Is Your Baby At Risk?

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The Doctors: Baby Diagnosed With Botulism

Could your house be making you sick? One woman had no idea what was causing her baby’s serious illness, and it truly gave her the scare of a lifetime. Meredith explained on The Doctors that when her son Tyler was 3 months old, she noticed one day that he wasn’t really eating. She said he wanted to eat but he couldn’t latch on. She said it started on Monday and by Wednesday he had lost almost a pound, so she knew something was wrong. She took her son to the emergency room where they did X-rays and ultrasounds but nothing was showing up.

The Doctors: Infant Botulism From Soil + Is Your Baby At Risk?

The Doctors talked to the mom whose infant son was diagnosed with botulism and explained the surprising source of the toxin. (alejandro dans neergaard / Shutterstock.com)

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She said his cry was getting weak and he was getting worse, but the doctors couldn’t tell her why. Meredith said it got to the point where she was planning her baby’s funeral, when all of the sudden an infectious disease doctor came in and examined Tyler. She explained to Meredith that she thought Tyler had botulism. Meredith said she knew that’s what they use in Botox so she didn’t know how it could have gotten inside her son. The test to find out if he had botulism takes two weeks, and they didn’t have the time because it was already a life or death situation.

They had the test flown out, and then came to the hospital at four in the morning for a one-time 45 minute infusion. She said there were no side effects and basically they were putting something into her baby without knowing what it would do. Thankfully, Meredith was right to put all her trust into the doctor because Tyler did in fact have infant botulism. That doctor ended up saving her baby’s life.

The Drs TV: Infant Botulism From Soil

Dr. Travis Stork said most people think of canned foods or Botox when they think of botulism, but Meredith shared that she thinks her baby actually got it from the soil. She said the spores can become airborne and if they’re ingested by a baby, it could be deadly. She said they were constantly walking outside near construction and had no idea that it could be harmful.

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Dr. Jim Sears said the spores aren’t harmful to anyone over a year of age, but a baby doesn’t enough the level of stomach acid needed to kill of the spores, so they regenerate and the bacteria grows, releasing the toxin into the body. The baby then gets symptoms like weakness, weak cry, fatigue, and floppy movements.

Dr. Sears said it’s incredibly rare and there’s only about an average of 145 cases of botulism in everybody in the U.S. but 65% of those are in infants because of their young age. Meredith said she was incredibly lucky to catch it when she did. Little Tyler is now doing very well!

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