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Tetanus In Children


Tetanus is a disease caused by a bacterial infection. The bacteria are usually found in soil, dust, and the bowel movements of some animals and humans. The bacteria may enter your child's body through a skin wound. A mother can also pass the bacteria to her baby during a vaginal birth. The bacteria produce a toxin that damages nerves. This causes severe muscle spasms.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.

Intake and output:

Healthcare providers may need to know how much liquid your child is getting and urinating. Your child may need to urinate into a container in bed or in the toilet. A healthcare provider will measure the amount of urine. If your child wears diapers, they may need to be weighted. Do not throw away diapers or flush urine down the toilet before asking a healthcare provider.


  • Antitoxin is used to prevent the toxin from attacking nerves.
  • Sedatives may be used to help your child sleep. Rest will help his body heal from the infection.
  • Antibiotics treat a bacterial infection.
  • Muscle relaxers help control muscle spasms.
  • Seizure medicine helps stop or prevent seizures.
  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until your child's pain is severe to ask for more medicine.

Blood tests

may be used to check your child's calcium levels. High calcium levels can cause muscle spasms. His magnesium or sodium levels may also be checked.


Your child will be kept in a dark, quiet room to prevent muscle spasms.

  • A nasogastric (NG) tube may be used if your child has trouble swallowing. An NG tube is put into your child's nose, and passes down his throat until it reaches his stomach. Liquid food and medicine may be given through the NG tube.
  • A tracheotomy may be needed to prevent or treat severe breathing problems. An opening is made through the front of your child's neck. A tube is connected to the opening. Your child will breathe through the tube.
  • Surgery may be used to remove tissue affected by tetanus. Debridement is a type of surgery used to clean a wound and remove dead tissue. Objects such as dirt or glass will also be removed.


Muscle spasms may be so severe that they tear muscles or break bones. Your child may develop aspiration pneumonia or severe breathing problems. He may develop a serious condition called rhabdomyolysis. This condition causes his body to break down muscle. Rhabdomyolysis can lead to kidney failure. Your child may have a life-threatening irregular heartbeat. Tetanus that affects nerves in your child's skull can lead to bleeding in his brain. Left untreated, tetanus can be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.