Can Your Newborns Get Stomach Flu?

Does any of your loved ones, especially your children, suffered from stomach bug? Many people are not aware of this medical condition despite the fact that there are more than 20 million cases recorded in the U.S. per year. A stomach bug is also known as stomach flu. Some of the symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and others. For one, it's not just a simple flu, especially if your kids are the ones affected.

Can Newborns Get Stomach Bug?

Parents usually wonder if their newborns can get a stomach bug. Well, there are rare cases of stomach bug in infants. These tiny tots are less exposed to viruses and bacteria since most of the time they stay indoors. However, these organisms can still enter your home through several carriers including an older sibling who attends school or adults who work in offices. When this happens, vigilance is the only key.

What Are the Symptoms of Stomach Bug?

A stomach bug is an infection of the digestive tract that is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Chills
  • Abdominal pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle pain

Infants tend to easily suffer from dehydration after a few hours of vomiting. This can be a symptom of stomach bug. But you should be aware of the other possible causes of vomiting, such as intestine blockage, as these may be mistakenly associated with a stomach bug.

How Did Your Newborn Get Stomach Bug?

After you know the answer to “can newborns get stomach bug”, you may be concerned about this. A stomach bug is a very infectious disease. This condition may be acquired by your children through several means.

  • Your baby may have ingested something that is contaminated with the virus that can cause the disease.
  • Your baby may have shared a utensil or a cup that is used by someone infected with the virus. Keep in mind that there might be a presence of virus even without exhibiting any symptoms.
  • Your baby may have eaten contaminated food and water, especially if the causative agent is bacteria or parasites.
  • Your baby may have put in their mouth dirty hands that are infected with fecal matter. This may be disgusting, but can happen especially in a daycare setting.

Should You Call Your Baby’s Doctor?

Medical attention should be given to your baby in the following conditions:

  • Give your doctor a call if you suspect that your baby is suffering from stomach bugs.
  • Seek medical attention if your baby has been vomiting for more than 24 hours, passing out bloody stools, and experiencing excessive drowsiness.
  • Phone in medical hotline if your baby has a fever. Special attention should be given to infants younger than 3 months old especially when their rectal temperature reaches 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
  • Call the doctor if your baby is showing classic signs of dehydration. These signs include decreased in the frequency of urination, excessive fussiness and sleepiness, wrinkled skin, the presence of sunken soft spot, extreme thirst, dryness of the lips, sunken eyes, discolored hands and feet, and lack of tears when crying.

Note: If the baby appears to be dehydrated and there is no doctor available, bring the baby to the emergency room for immediate medical attention. An IV rehydration may be recommended or given to restore lost fluids and prevent complications. Your baby may be kept in the hospital for a few hours for further observations and may be admitted as necessary.

How to Treat Stomach Bug?

The answer to the question “can newborns get stomach bug” is yes, so if your little one does suffer from it, you would like to follow the treatments below.

1. Get medical help

Calling the attention of the doctor should be the immediate action if your baby is suspected to be infected with a stomach bug. There is a higher risk if your baby is less than 6 months old. Tell the doctor what are the symptoms that are being experienced by your baby. The doctor will conduct several tests prior to giving proper medications.

  • Antibiotics may be given if your baby is suffering from a bacterial infection.
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be given with the appropriate dosage to relieve fever and ease the pain.
  • Avoid giving your baby antidiarrheal drugs as it may only prolong the condition and may cause several side effects.
  • Avoid giving aspirin to your baby since it can cause Reye’s syndrome which is fatal.

2. Proper rehydration

Your baby may suffer from dehydration due to vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. It is important to regain the lost fluid through rehydration.

  • Rehydrate your baby as soon as possible. This can be done by breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby more often.
  • Over-the-counter oral electrolyte solutions may be used, as per doctor’s recommendation based on your baby’s age and weight. These solutions may help replace the lost fluids, salt, and minerals in your baby’s body. Some of the most common electrolyte solutions include Enfalyte, Pedialyte, and Rehydralyte.
  • Give your baby diluted apple juice followed by the drinks of their choice. Based on a recent study, this method is far better than giving electrolytes solution alone.
  • Avoid giving your baby clear liquids such as water, soda, or chicken broth. These will not provide the necessary nutrients to your dehydrated baby.

3. Normal diet

Once your baby is already rehydrated, the normal diet should be followed.

  • Give your baby the staples such as wholegrain bread, cereals, yogurt, lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. Others may opt to follow the commonly advocated BRAT (banana, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet, however, this is not highly recommended due to its lack of vital nutrients such as proteins.
  • For mild cases of stomach bugs wherein little diarrhea with no vomiting is experienced, continuous eating of the usual may be done with minimal to none oral electrolyte solution.
  • Stay away from foods rich in sugar since it is harder to digest and can worsen the stomach bug symptoms. Avoid eating flavored gelatins, soda, and fruit drinks.
  • Reintroduce a standard diet as soon as the acute symptoms are gone. This can help restore the nutrients needed by the body to fight against infections.

How to Prevent Your Newborns From Getting Stomach Bug

Instead of asking “can newborns get stomach bug”, there are several ways to prevent your baby from acquiring stomach bugs. The bottom line is keeping your environment clean and healthy.

  • Always practice good washing habits and proper hygiene in order to slow down the spread of the infection.
  • Wash hands immediately after changing diapers and doing other dirty jobs.
  • Frequently wash and wipe your baby’s hands, especially before eating and after using the toilet.
  • Clean the contaminated surfaces with a bleach solution (2 parts of bleach on 1 part of water) to reduce the transmission of the infection. 
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