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Preventing Foodborne Illnesses

Once Baby Arrives

Foodborne illness is a serious health issue, especially for your new baby and any other children in your home. Each year in the U.S., 800,000 illnesses affect children under the age of 10. Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to foodborne illness because their immune systems are not developed enough to fight off foodborne bacterial infections. That's why extra care should be taken when handling and preparing their food.

Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to foodborne illness because their immune systems are not developed enough to fight off foodborne bacterial infections. In fact, 800,000 illnesses affect children under the age of 10 in the U.S. each year.

Handwashing:Your First Step in Keeping your Children Safe

Your hands can pick up bacteria and spread bacteria to your baby - for example, from:

  • Diapers containing feces and urine
  • Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs
  • Pets, such as dogs, cats, turtles, snakes, birds, and lizards.
  • Soil
Washing your hands can remove harmful bacteria, so wash your hands often to help prevent foodborne illness. Also, teach your children how and when to wash their hands.

3 Critical Handwashing Steps:
  1. Wet your hands thoroughly with warm water and add soap.
  2. Thoroughly scrub your hands, wrists, fingernails, and in between fingers - for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Rinse, then dry hands with a clean cloth towel or use a paper towel so the germs are thrown away.
When to Wash
  • Before and after handling food.
  • After using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.

Who's Not Washing?

According to a Penn State University study on mothers with infants less than four months old:

  • 41% didn't wash their hands after petting animals;
  • 32% didn't wash their hands after changing the baby's diaper;
  • 15% didn't wash their hands after using the bathroom;
  • 10% didn't wash their hands after handling raw meat;
  • 5% didn't wash their hands after gardening or working with soil.

Foodborne Illness: When to Call the Doctor

Prevention is key to keeping your baby safe from infections. However, food-handling mistakes can happen. If your baby experiences any of the following symptoms, he or she may have foodborne illness and may need to see a doctor:

  • Blood in diarrheaProlonged, high feverNot taking fluids
  • Not able to keep anything down due to vomiting

In these cases, take your baby to a doctor or health-care provider immediately. He or she can properly diagnose foodborne illness, have the specific bacteria identified if necessary, and prescribe the best treatment.

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