Neonatal tetanus


Neonatal tetanus is caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. The illness happens in the first month after birth when bacteria get into the body, often where the umbilical cord is cut. When bacteria enter, they release a toxin that damages nerves.


Neonatal tetanus symptoms happen within 28 days of birth. A baby might refuse to feed and have trouble opening the mouth. Muscles in the face might spasm, which may look like a grin. The hands may clench and the feet may flex upward. If the disease gets worse, the body may become rigid or spasm.


Neonatal tetanus is treated in the hospital. Medicines help clear up the infection and manage complications while the infection runs its course. Other hospital care may be needed as well, including steps to make sure that a baby gets enough nutrition.

Last Updated Jan 10, 2024

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