Tetanus neonatorum is a form of neonatal tetanus caused by a bacterial infection. It is caused by an infection of the umbilical stump of a newborn baby with the bacterium Clostridium tetani. The infection is usually transmitted through unhygienic umbilical cord care, or the use of contaminated instruments during delivery.
The diagnosis of tetanus neonatorum is based on the clinical presentation. Symptoms include muscle spasms, difficulty feeding, irritability, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, the newborn may experience seizures, paralysis, and even death. A physical examination may reveal signs of muscle spasms, rigidity, and difficulty feeding. Laboratory tests may be used to confirm the diagnosis, including the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to detect the presence of C. tetani in the umbilical stump.
Differential diagnosis of tetanus neonatorum includes other neonatal infections such as sepsis, meningitis, and pneumonia. It is also important to consider other medical conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as cerebral palsy and birth asphyxia.
Treatment of tetanus neonatorum should be started immediately. This includes administration of antibiotics to prevent further spread of the infection, as well as wound care to prevent further contamination. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) can also be given to help the body fight the infection. If the newborn is having severe symptoms, muscle relaxants and other medications may be necessary.
The prognosis for tetanus neonatorum is generally good with prompt treatment. However, if the infection is not treated promptly, it can be fatal. The mortality rate is higher in developing countries due to lack of access to healthcare and proper hygiene practices.