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What Causes Gastroenteritis in Babies?

Florence J. Tipton
Florence J. Tipton

Gastroenteritis in babies is usually caused by the contraction of several different types of infections. Rotavirus is a viral infection that attacks the digestive system. Another infection that may cause gastroenteritis in babies is adenovirus, multiple infections that are passed into the respiratory system. Astrovirus is the least severe infection, and may appear during the winter. Consuming contaminated foods or liquids or being in close contact with other infected children and adults may also lead to gastroenteritis in babies.

Generally, a primary correlation between one of these viruses and gastroenteritis in babies is from the transmission of bacteria by adults or other children. Sharing utensils between an infected person and healthy baby can cause gastroenteritis. Poor practices in washing hands, as well as consuming contaminated food or liquids exposes infants to viral gastroenteritis, which is also known as stomach flu. An infant’s immune system is still developing and cannot easily fight off the bacteria and germs that cause these infections.

A baby.
A baby.

Rotavirus is a contagious disease that irritates the intestines, which are part of the digestive system. A contraction of rotavirus is typically the result of germs being passed through contact with bowel movements. When an infant is infected with rotavirus, the bowels may become runny, leading to mild or severe diarrhea. A high fever, vomiting spells, and dehydration may also occur. Most babies may recover after a period of time, but severe diarrhea and dehydration usually requires medical attention to restore the body fluids that were lost.

Poor practices in washing hands can cause gastroenteritis in babies.
Poor practices in washing hands can cause gastroenteritis in babies.

The appearance of gastroenteritis in babies may also be caused by adenovirus. In this case, multiple viruses attack the lining of the respiratory system, leading to an upper respiration infection. Adenovirus may occur after a baby has had contact with an infected person. Spreading of adenovirus may come through coughs or sneezes that a baby inhales after being in close proximity with the infected adult or child.

An infant’s bladder, eyes, and intestines are often susceptible to adverse reactions from contracting the adenovirus. Babies may have sunken eyes as a result of the diarrhea. A baby might also have a high fever and vomiting spells.

Signs of gastroenteritis in babies from astrovirus may mirror symptoms related to stomach flu. An infant may have the same symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and fever, but the symptoms are milder than those shown with rotavirus and adenovirus. Astrovirus may occur within one to three days after an infection is spread. Symptoms typically disappear after a very short time.

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