A newborn is more vulnerable to viral and bacterial illness since their immune system is not fully matured. In young children, typhoid fever is commonly overlooked because it is mistaken for a milder sickness. Typhoid fever is an infection caused by Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi), a type of bacteria which also causes food poisoning. After the bacteria enter the body, they rapidly multiply and spread through the blood. If not treated immediately, this can lead to potentially lethal complications.
In this article, Dr. Promilla Butani, a renowned general paediatric doctor in Delhi, explains what may cause typhoid in babies. She also talks about various symptoms, treatments and ways to prevent it.
Causes of Neonatal Typhoid
To put it simply, Salmonella Typhi is the bacteria responsible for typhoid fever. The following are potential vectors for bacterial infection in infants and toddlers:
- Food: Food might be tainted if the person preparing it hasn't adequately washed their hands. Typhoid bacteria are commonly found in unwashed fruits and vegetables, raw seafood, raw milk, and raw milk products.
- Beverages: Fruit juices and other beverages that have been touched by infected people may spread the disease.
- Water: Water that has been tainted by sewage that has typhoid bacteria in it.
- Exposure to bird faeces: Salmonella Typhi, which may cause typhoid in humans, is found in the digestive tracts of birds like pigeons and chickens but does not appear to harm them.
Dr. Promilla Butani explains that typhoid infections are unusual in babies who have only been breastfed. Babies who are breastfed have a better chance of avoiding illness. Not to mention, infants who aren't yet eating solids have less of a chance of coming into contact with contaminated food and drink.
Symptoms of Typhoid in Babies
Typhoid symptoms often appear between one and two weeks after consuming tainted food or water. As long as the illness does not lead to further complications, the symptoms should begin to subside around the third or fourth week. The symptoms can include:
- A persistent fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher, lasting more than five days and progressively escalating with each passing day.
- Weakness and a pervasive sense of discomfort (malaise).
- Stomach ache
- The white-creamish colour coating on the tongue
- Digestive issues, either constipation or diarrhoea.
- Sore throat
- In some cases, red-pink rashes may also develop on the child’s body.
Complication of Neonatal Typhoid
Typhoid fever must be treated immediately to avoid complications, mainly if a baby has been sick for over two weeks. Typhoid infection may prove to be lethal if it is not treated on time. Complications of typhoid in babies include:
- Gallbladder or kidney infections
- Cholecystitis, often known as gallbladder inflammation
- Pancreatic inflammation.
- Blood poisoning
- Myocarditis, often known as heart muscle inflammation
- Cardiovascular system lining and valve inflammation
- Internal bleeding
When to Visit a Doctor?
In order to begin treatment as soon as possible, one needs to visit the doctor as soon as possible. In severe cases, typhoid can be lethal if treatment is delayed. If one sees any of these symptoms in their infant, it is crucial to contact a medical professional as soon as possible.
- Constant vomiting
- Swollen tummy
- Fever that has not subsided after three days.
Diagnosis of Typhoid in Babies
Diagnosing typhoid fever in infants and young children can be challenging. The child will have a thorough examination, and the physician will question both parents about the baby’s symptoms in order to assist in making a diagnosis.
A paediatrician will examine the child for symptoms consistent with typhoid fever, such as a slower heartbeat and swollen liver and spleen organs.
On the other hand, typhoid cannot be diagnosed based just on the symptoms. In most cases, a blood test is essential. The test will require a blood sample to determine whether or not it contains bacteria.
Another blood test that can be used to diagnose typhoid is called the Widal test. Having said that, it is possible that it is not particularly specific or sensitive.
To diagnose typhoid in babies, the child's stool and urine should both be tested. The paediatrician will use all of these tests to see whether or not additional infections with comparable symptoms are present.
The physician may also request a total blood count and other diagnostic procedures to rule out the possibility of illnesses such as dysentery, malaria, or pneumonia.
Typhoid in Babies Treatment
After diagnosing typhoid in the baby, the paediatrician will likely recommend a course of antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria. In children, the therapy for typhoid fever involves administering medication for up to two weeks or as long as needed.
It is strongly recommended that one should not attempt to self-medicate or purchase these antibiotics over the counter. With the prescription from the doctor, one can be sure that the baby will receive the appropriate medication and the right amount of that drug, taking into account their age and weight.
If the child is seriously ill, the attending physician will likely recommend that they be admitted to the hospital for treatment. An intravenous (IV) drip will be used to administer fluids, antibiotics, and nutrition to the infant.
On the other hand, most infants and toddlers in need of care throughout their recovery phase can be attended to at home. Dr. Butani explains that it is important to make certain that even if the infant seems to be recovering well after a few days of taking the antibiotics, it is essential to finish the whole course that was prescribed.
How to Prevent Typhoid in Babies
The best way to prevent typhoid in babies is to get them vaccinated. Dr. Promilla Butani, the best child specialist doctor in Delhi, offers vaccination for babies and kids to prevent many diseases, including typhoid.
She offers typhoid conjugate vaccine, the first dose of which is given at the age of one. The dose should be repeated in the 2nd year and in the fifth year, the child must be given a booster dose to protect him completely from the disease.
Apart from that, certain other tips can also help in the prevention of typhoid in babies. These include:
Clean water for the baby: The root cause of the vast majority of diseases is water that is contaminated or otherwise unfit for human consumption. Never give raw water to a newborn; boil or filter it.
Provide essential nutrients: There is no proof that typhoid is transferred through breast milk, so one may be assured that the baby will get the nutrition they need. If the child is a bit older, feed the child a balanced diet that includes protein, dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
Keep it hygienic: Wash hands with soap and water before eating, cooking, feeding the baby, using the restroom, petting pets, or changing the baby's diaper to ensure proper hygiene. To prevent illness, bathe the infant every day. Remember to clean up the kitchen, wipe off the counters, and remove any old food that has passed its expiration date.
For more information on typhoid in babies and other concerns, consult Dr. Butani, the best general paediatric doctor in Delhi.