HealthCareMagic is now Ask A Doctor - 24x7 |

Get your health question answered instantly from our pool of 18000+ doctors from over 80 specialties
159 Doctors Online

By proceeding, I accept the Terms and Conditions

Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

HCM Blog Instant Access to Doctors
HCM BlogQuestions Answered
HCM Blog Satisfaction
Article Home Children's Health Tetanus in children

Tetanus in children

Tetanus is now uncommon illness since most of children are vaccinated with the tetanus vaccine and adults receive regular booster dose. Tetanus caused by clostridium tetani bacteria that usually gains access to a person through the contaminated wound, it later grows and can cause muscle and nerve problems. Symptoms can include muscle spasms that lead to stiffness of the jaw, drooling, difficulty in swallowing.


 The spasms gradually spread to other muscles throughout the body. It can occur in babies, if the umbilical cord is cut with instrument which is not sterile. The chances of getting tetanus are more if the mother has not received the tetanus toxoid vaccine during the pregnancy.

Signs and symptoms of tetanus in children

  • The toxin released by the microorganism causes intense stimulation of the entire nervous system in child’s body. This causes vigorous movement, painful spasms of the muscles.
  • The first sign can be lock jaw. Lock jaw is a spasm of the muscles of the massester muscle.
  • The other symptoms are difficulties in swallowing, neck stiffness, headache, restlessness and irritability.
  • Small babies may stop taking breast feed, they become very rigid and tensed. In severe cases the body may be bent like a bow.
  • Difficulty in breathing can occur due to spasms of respiratory muscle.
  • The tetanic spasms are typically triggered by sound, light, or touch and they are extremely painful.

Treatment of tetanus

The best way to prevent this disease is by vaccination.

Muscle relaxants and paralytic agents whit some artificial or mechanical respiration support is essential.
Other measures are tetanus immune globulin, removal of infected tissues and higher antibiotics to kill clostridium tetani, the organism responsible for tetanus.

The sufferer is kept in dark room with silence. The child is kept untouched as far as possible, since all these can trigger the attack. The attack is very painful and generally brought down by injection like sedatives and anticonvulsants.

Prevention of tetanus

Tetanus is very difficult to treat and is best prevented by routine vaccination. Children are usually given four doses of tetanus as a part of DTP vaccine.