Sunday, July 19, 2009
Honey and Babies
Did you know that infants below the age of 1 shouldn't be fed honey, according to Health Canada?
The only food that has been linked to infant botulism in Canada is honey. The bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, is common in soil and dust but has also been found in samples of honey . When the spores of this bacterium are ingested, they grow and produce a poison in the baby's intestines.
Children over the age of one develop a good bacteria in their intestines that will protect them from the infant botulism-causing spores.
Symptoms of infant botulism include persistent constipation, general weakness, floppy arms, legs and/or neck, lack of head control, a weak cry, a poor sucking reflex, irritability, lacks of facial expression, lethargy and difficulty breathing. Infant botulism affects the baby's nervous system and therefore can also lead to death- but most will make a complete recovery if treated immediately.
Not all honey produced in Canada is contaminated- random sampling shows that less than 5% actually contain bacterial spores. However, the risk exists in both pasteurized and non-pasteurized honey. As a result, to minimize risk, infants below the age of 12 months should not be given honey, nor should it be added to baby food or used as a soother.