Disease Caused by Honey in Young Babies

Spores in honey can kill babies?

Although honey is considered beneficial for many reasons, it is advised that honey should not be given to infants below one year of age. The reason for this is that honey may contain (in very small amounts) the spores of Clostridium botulinum, which can lead to infant botulism. These spores of Clostridium botulinum do not harm adults and grown-up children as their gastrointestinal tract can take care of it. But infants below one year are at risk and therefore should not be fed honey.

Infant botulism, the disease caused by honey in young babies, can be a fatal condition and should be promptly treated. Besides honey, infant botulism can also occur if the baby comes in contact with air and soil that contains Clostridium botulinum microorganism. The Clostridium botulinum microorganism, once inside the body of the infant, releases toxins in the body that block the transmission of nerve impulses and lead to paralysis of the body. The common symptoms of infant botulism are constipation, muscular weakness, feeble cry, and poor suckling. The child will also show general weakness of arms and legs, sagging or half-closed eyelids, and loss of control of head movement. If these symptoms are observed in an infant, immediate medical care should be sought.

Infant botulism patients need to be taken to hospitals or medical practitioners where the doctor can initiate proper medical treatment. The baby will also need to be ensured proper nutrition and a clean airway. Artificial breathing support should be given to the baby whenever s/he shows signs of labored breathing. It is important that the child receives medical attention at the earliest. If left untreated, infant botulism can lead to severe respiratory trouble and paralysis of the body, which can often prove fatal. The chances of recovery for infant botulism have significantly improved over the years and the child can completely recover in a few weeks' treatment at the hospital. However, the key to recovery is early diagnosis and treatment.

But, it is always better to prevent rather than cure. Therefore, proper care should be taken at home to feed the baby properly. Honey should never be given to infants below the age of one year. Further, any food the infant takes should be heated to high temperature so that any harmful microorganism, if present in the food, gets destroyed. The infant should also be kept in a sterilized environment as far as possible. One also needs to keep a keen eye on the baby to notice any change in the behavior so that anything unusual gets treated at the earliest.

answered by M W

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