Children are not born with fully developed immune systems. They grow and strengthen over time and, some experts say, are not fully developed until a child reaches 12-14 years of age. Newborn babies in particular are vulnerable to infection. Their immune systems are still quite weak and sensitive, so it’s vital that hospitals and care providers do all they can to control and prevent the risk of any food borne illness outbreaks.
Children, particularly newborn babies, are classed as ‘vulnerable people’ and it is vulnerable people who are, unfortunately, more susceptible to food-borne illness. Children under the age of 4 are twice as likely as adults to be affected by campylobacter. As well as having limited ability to fight infections due to their developing immune systems, their lower body weight means the amount of bacteria needed to cause illness is much lower. While you might not think a newborn baby can get a food borne illness as they only eat milk, the bacteria can pass from mother to baby with serious effects, for example, the death rate among newborns with listeriosis is 25-50%.
Pregnant women account for a third of all listeriosis infections and, if a pregnant woman develops listeriosis, the infection can be passed on to her child. Symptoms usually occur in newborns in the first week of life, although they can occur later on. The symptoms are often subtle and can include:
A recent study showed that children with salmonella induced gastroenteritis are more likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) later in life.
Newborns have unique exposure pathways including transplacental, breastfeeding and infant formula. Children are also susceptible to bacteria which can be transferred person to person, such as e-coli. They engage in exploratory behaviours including hand to mouth and object to mouth which can greatly increase their exposure levels when compared with adults or older children.
As a health care provider, it is your responsibility to ensure that a food-borne illness outbreak does not occur within your organisation.
You may have sufficient food safety controls within your catering department; however, do you actually monitor all the food pathways within your health or childcare facility, including retail outlets and food which is brought in by friends or relatives? We’ve found that many outbreaks can often be traced back to these pathways.
STS is the leading food safety specialists. With over twenty years’ experience working with the NHS and their supply chain as well as private hospitals, nurseries and schools; you can be assured we are the experts when it comes to protecting children from food borne illness.
For more information on how you can safeguard your clients and reputation, speak to a member of our team today on 01252 728 300.