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Food Poisoning in Children

Food poisoning isn’t just a problem that impacts adults. It can also affect children, too. While, as a parent, you may be used to dealing with vomiting or diarrhea, food poisoning is a whole new animal. Since children under five don’t have a fully developed immune system they are often most susceptible to food poisoning. When germs or bacteria get into the foods and drinks we consume, these bacteria and germs cause toxins that result in food poisoning.

What are the warning signs of food poisoning?

Food poisoning can be confused with other health issues and infections such as the “stomach bug”, so it’s important to recognize the symptoms and to call your child’s pediatrician if you are concerned. How quickly symptoms appear will depend on the germ or bacteria that your child has ingested. Some children may develop symptoms as quickly as 1-2 hours after consuming the contaminated food or beverage, while it may take weeks for symptoms to develop in other children.

The most common symptoms of food poisoning in children include:

  • Stomach cramping and pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Malaise
  • Fever
  • Headache

What are the most common types of food poisoning?

Some of the bacteria that are most responsible for food poisoning include,

  • Salmonella
  • Ecoli
  • Campylobacter
  • Listeria
  • Staphylococcus aureus

While germs are most often found in animal-based products, unwashed fruits and vegetables can also carry germs. Even water can be contaminated. Children with weakened immune systems, as well as those with chronic health problems, are more at risk for foodborne-related illnesses.

How is food poisoning treated?

In many cases, food poisoning will simply run its course and your child will feel better after a few days. Make sure that they are resting and staying hydrated. If your child is dealing with a more severe form of food poisoning your pediatrician may prescribe antibiotics. If your child is also showing signs of dehydration, it’s important that you call your pediatrician right away.

If your child is displaying symptoms of food poisoning it’s important that you talk with your pediatrician to find out if your child should come in for a visit. While food poisoning will often just run its course and go away on its own, your child may require antibiotics if they are dealing with a severe bacterial bout of food poisoning.

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