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Permanent tetraplegia as a consequence of tetanus neonatorum:Evidence for widespread lower motor neuron damage

Authors
Journal
Journal of the Neurological Sciences
0022-510X
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
51
Issue
2
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/0022-510x(81)90105-2
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract It is generally believed that no permanent neurological damage is found among survivors of tetanus neonatorum. Newborns dying shortly after the onset of tetanus also lack significant neurological abnormalities. In adults a variety of neuromuscular lesions have been reported; however, a uniform pathological picture is absent. We report a case of a newborn with severe tetanus in whom striking evidence of anterior horn neuronal damage was documented, causing permanent nonprogressive tetraplegia. We suggest that the mechanism responsible for this lesion involves the retrograde axoplasmic flow of tetanus toxin reaching the spinal cord via nerve endings in the infected umbilical cord stump.

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