Norovirus in babies

Babies under one year can get norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhoea. What other symptoms should you look out for - and when is it time to see a doctor? We get expert advice from Dr Philippa Kaye

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In a nutshell: Babies can get norovirus – a sickness bug also known as the winter vomiting bug (which also causes diarrhoea) – and it’s highly contagious and spreads quickly. Family GP Dr Philippa Kaye advises:

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Norovirus results in diarrhoea and vomiting and the key with any diarrhoea and vomiting-type illness is about the amount of fluid you are managing to keep down.

If you have a young baby with norovirus that’s caused gastroenteritis, the NHS advises that you:

  • carry on breast or bottle feeding your baby – if they’re being sick, try giving small feeds more often than usual
  • give babies on formula or solid foods small sips of water between feeds.

What are the symptoms of norovirus in babies?

  • sudden sick feeling followed by forceful vomiting
  • watery diarrhoea.

Some babies with norovirus may also have:

  • raised temperature or fever (above 38C or 100.4F)
  • cramping, headache or aching limbs (although obviously your baby won’t be able to tell you this).

Is norovirus dangerous to babies?

The key concern regarding norovirus is making sure your baby doesn’t get dehdyrated. You should call the NHS emergency line – 111 – if your baby stops breastfeeding or having their formula, or if they have signs of dehydration like:

  • fewer wet nappies
  • drowsiness
  • a dry mouth
  • crying without tears
  • fast breathing.

How long does norovirus last in babies?

The vomiting can last for 2 days, the diarrhoea can last for around 5 days.

How do I stop norovirus from spreading?

Norovirus is highly contagious – good hygiene is key when it comes to stopping it spreading, so make sure you wash  your hands regularly. In addition, Dr Philippa advises:

If someone has had norovirus and has vomited or had diarrhoea in the last 48 hours they should probably avoid looking after your baby.

Keep an eye on the symptoms, and, as well as washing your hands, keep door handles wiped down, wash towels and utensils and disinfect surfaces regularly.

If your baby is at nursery or being looked after by a childminder, they should not return for 48 hours after their last bout of diarrhoea or vomiting, to prevent the infection from spreading.

About our expert GP Philippa Kaye

Dr Philippa Kaye works as a GP in both NHS and private practice. She attended Downing College, Cambridge, then took medical studies at Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’s medical schools in London, training in paediatrics, gynaecology, care of the elderly, acute medicine, psychiatry and general practice. Dr Philippa has also written a number of books, including ones on child health, diabetes in childhood and adolescence. She is a mum of 3.

Pics: Getty

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