Infant illness, treatable but fatal without illness.


I was wondering, is there an illness that mainly strikes infants (0-5), is always lethal if untreated, but which can be overcome with treatment?

Need answer fast.

Always lethal? I don’t know about that. A baby can die from an ear infection, or any everyday infection, if it’s left untreated. Just like a full grown adult can die from a tooth abcess, if left untreated.

But we can naturally fight those. I was wondering about a disease that means that without treatment - no more baby.

Diarrhea (because of unsafe drinking water) is a frequent cause of death for children in 3rd world countries, but can be treated with simple Oral Rehydration kits from the WHO (so the aid agencies are teaching mothers how to make the solution themselves, and stocking health posts).

Undernourishment with vitamins can lead not only to stunted growth and damaged organs (loosing eyesight because of lack of vitamin A) but in severe cases to death.

Do you believe that there is some disease out there for which the human body has absolutely no defense? Some people recovered from the Black Death and from the 1918 Flu, even if they did kill 100 million and 40 million people, respectively. I don’t know of a disease which is 100% fatal. Ebola Zaire is 90% fatal, but it certainly isn’t very common.

UNICEF says the 5 most common causes of infant death are:
acute respiratory infections

Diarrhea kills plenty of infants left untreated.
Whoops. Others got there first.

Off the top of my head, there’s phenylkeotnuria, which is a genetic disorder rather than a contagious disease. The patient is unable to properly process the amino acid phenylalanine. Left untreated, it leads to mental retardation and brain damage, but if caught early enough, simply avoiding that amino acid solves the problem.

Not quite what you’re looking for.

There are numerous diseases that are essentially 100% fatal if not treated, such as sleeping sickness and rabies (but of course these are not the answer to the OP’s question as they are not primarily diseases of infants).

Dehydration is always an option.

Do you accept surgical disorders? For example, a number of congenital heart defects will almost invariably prove lethal in the absence of surgical correction.

On the other hand, although rare, congenital adrenal hypoplasia (absence of adrenal gland function), is easy to treat (with medication) but can be fatal if left untreated.

Of course, both of the above conditions being congenital, tend to affect young kids and neonates (as you stipulated).

Now, type I diabetes is usually fatal (from diabetic ketoacidosis) if insulin isn’t taken. But, as you probably know, it affects not just young kids but older ones, too. Even adults are not immune (pardon the pun).

Bacterial meningitis is always fatal in young children. Early detection takes that guaranteed death rate down to almost zero with medical treatment, but children still die from meningitis in first world countries because parents don’t recognize the symptoms in time.

Oh, yeah! My stepson had one of those. Don’t know why I didn’t think of that. He had open heart surgery at something like 6 weeks old. There was another baby in the bed next to him that had the exact same thing. My stepson lived; the other baby died. Scary stuff.

Improv book writing competition?