Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Infants Under 12 Months Should Not Be Given Honey

Paul G. Donohue, M.D., The Standard-Times (USA), 5/16/2006

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I just finished baby-sitting for my daughter when she and her family moved to a new house. One morning, I gave the baby, 10 months old, a spoonful of honey. My daughter screamed at me to never do that again because I could poison the child. What's my daughter talking about?
-- R.C.

She was screaming about botulism, one kind of food poisoning — potentially the most dangerous kind. Most botulism food poisoning happens to adults and comes from improperly home-canned foods...

Botulinum bacteria form spores, embryos encased in a hard covering. When infants eat foods with botulinum spores, the spores germinate into adult germs in the infant's digestive tract, and the adult germs begin to make their poison...

In the digestive tracts of older infants and adults, spores do not develop into mature germs. Honey is one source of botulinum spores, so infants less than 1 year old should not eat it.

This has to be put into perspective. There are very few cases of infant botulism in any given year, and only a few can be traced to honey. Honey is a healthy, tasty, wonderful food that can be eaten by all except young infants...

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