June 07, 2010
We finally got our diagnosis from the children's hospital and our little Viking had a case of salmonella in his bloodstream that needed intravenous antibiotic treatment. He didn't have pneumonia as previously thought by the regular hospital ER. He was dehydrated and lethargic with a fever, so they are keeping him an extra night to be on the safe side - even though his blood seems to be free of the bacteria now. They say that his bowels won't be back to their usual self for at least another week or so, but at least he's acting more like his cheerful, mischievous self.
It's hard to see your baby so sick.
Previous to being at the hospital with him, I would have thought that he had very little if any chance of contracting salmonella. I figured since he was breastfed, didn't go to daycare, and his mom is a germophobe, he was sure to stay pretty healthy. I have learned a lot about salmonella and pesticides since this hospital episode started, though... so I figured I would share with you all - so as to prevent more babies from becoming ill, hopefully.
Here's what I've learned:
Even though breastfed babies are less likely to get Salmonella infections, babies are the highest age group to contract the infection. The most common symptoms of a Salmonella infection are diarrhea and fever, and in a small percentage of children, if not treated early enough, the result can lead to death.
According to research from WebMD, the risk factors for a baby to contract salmonella are highest if:
1. they aren't breastfed.
2. they are exposed to reptiles (they carry the bacteria). [Children under 5 should not touch reptiles and anyone touching them should follow with lots of soap and water!]
3. they ride in a shopping cart - near meat (shopping carts are known for passing on germs, regardless of the meat aisle).
4. they travel outside the USA.
5. they drink liquid infant formula (which kind of seems like a repeat of #1 - but they made a note that this could be related to preparation, storage, or tainted tap water).
6. they attend daycare with another child who has diarrhea (daycare centers are notorious for being germ cesspools - and little kids who are left to play together often swap them).
Baby K is breastfed, but he does eat table food, stick his fingers and anything else he finds in his mouth (like most kids at 14 months)... and he does ride in shopping carts. We have used wipes and antibacterial jelly on our hands after going to the grocery stores and restaurants, but during this hospital stay, the doctor said that .... [NEWSFLASH!!!] HAND GEL DOES NOT KILL SALMONELLA.
The VERY BEST way you can prevent salmonella infection (and most every other bacterial infection) is to wash your hands before you eat.
The question still remains unanswered on whether the recent pesticide treatment that we had in our home had anything to do with this infection in the baby. We do know that it is related to our sinus and asthma problems and have aired the house out since baby got sick. Certainly, there is no conclusive evidence that salmonella and pesticides have anything to do with each other; however, insecticide has been linked to autoimmune diseases.
Children - who live and play near the floor - are much more easily exposed to toxic doses of chemicals. Also scary: insecticide sprayed inside the home takes much longer to break down - causing longer exposure for the inhabitants. There is debate on whether inhalation or skin exposure to blame for causing the development of autoimmune disorders, but the fact that it DOES cause them makes me wonder if it caused the baby to have a weakened immune response to the salmonella he was exposed to. There's the link, in theory.
There are tens of thousands of chemicals, many of which have only been created in the past 50 years and not tested for toxicity that are in the products we use on a regular basis. Chronic illness patterns in kids have dramatically changed over the past century and chemical toxins are known or suspected to be linked to many on the hot-list:
Autoimmune disorders such as Lupus
ADD and ADHD
I may never know if the chemicals we used a month ago contributed to the salmonella infection in the baby's blood, but I can tell you that I won't ever be spraying chemicals in or close to my home or garden again. We will be searching for organic, non-toxic solutions for our fire ant, spider, scorpion and sugar ant problems.
I can deal with a bugs in a less toxic way.
I can wash my hands more and not trust that the hand gel will deliver me from all nasty, evil bacteria.
But I can't live without my little baby Bee. I'm so glad he's getting better.