Baby

Baby botulism, or why babies should not eat honey


Honey is a home antibiotic. Irreplaceable during the infection season. It is worth eating it solo, using it for sweetening or preparing meals. Unfortunately, honey is not recommended in the diet of an infant, not necessarily because of the allergic reaction it may cause, but because of infant botulism.

Botulism in children - a bit of history

The first mention of botulism in infants comes from from 1976, when the disease was diagnosed in the United States. He caused the disease botulism poisoning present in honey. In Poland, the problem is almost absent, because sweetening of milk and other beverages given to babies with honey is rarely practiced. Polish parents are also not in the habit of covering the teats with honey to calm the baby. After all, it is worth noting that the threat, even hypothetical, exists, especially because of choosing more and more often healthy eating and frequent use of honey.

Baby botulism and honey

Studies show that about 15% of botulism cases in infants are caused by the consumption of honey contaminated with spores Clostridium botulinum (botulinum stick). Not always consumption of contaminated honey will cause child botulism. However, this happens, according to statistics, in one case in 12,000.

Other causes of infant botulism

Botulism in babies does not only cause honey. In 85% of cases botulinum toxin sticks occurring in soil or air are a problem. They can be carried along with the pacifier that has fallen to the ground, on the hands that a small child often puts in the mouth. The source of infection can also be food, meals prepared without observing the proper hygiene rules.

Honey is not the main culprit. Baby botulism is more often caused by other factors.

Symptoms of infant botulism

Botulinum toxin is one of the most dangerous poisons. It causes a lot of unpleasant symptoms, strongly affects the nervous system. In infant botulism, the symptoms of the disease are caused by the bacterium itself, not the toxin, the botulinum toxin it produces.

Infant botulism causes:

  • constipation that occurs several weeks before the next symptoms appear,
  • weakness of the child
  • quieter crying
  • slower movements
  • stagnation,
  • sucking difficulties ,,
  • difficulty swallowing
  • drowsiness, irritability,
  • eyelid drooping
  • mydriasis
  • acute diarrhea.

The above symptoms may appear a few hours or a few days after eating honey.

If you notice these symptoms, please contact your child's doctor as soon as possible.

When can a child get honey?

Children under the age of 1 should not receive honey. Some doctors tend to think that honey should not be given a year longer until the child is two years old. Older children may receive honey (if they are not allergic), because their immune system and intestinal microflora are usually so developed that they can cope with possible botulinum toxin.

Older children and honey can consume honey breastfeeding moms. Even if they consume honey contaminated with bacteria in this way, good bacteria that live in the digestive system will not have any problem with neutralizing them. They will leave the digestive system with feces. Studies have shown that bacteria Clostridium botulinum do not penetrate into breast milk. However, if you are breastfeeding, there is a risk of allergy symptoms when you eat honey, but the risk is small.