Thursday, November 11, 2010

Honey and Infants

Many people find it difficult to resist the sweet taste of honey. New research shows it even contains antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds. But honey isn’t for everyone. In fact, feeding honey to infants less than 12 months old may have severe and sometimes deadly consequences.

While is may seem harmless to add a little bit of honey to your child’s pacifier, honey often contains spores of bacterium that causes infant botulism. Although these bacterial spores do not affect the digestive systems of adults, an infant’s digestive system is not fully developed, and can’t prevent the spores from germinating. When this happens, the bacteria produce a toxin that is often fatal.

Botulism toxin affects the neuromuscular system, leading to a weak and lethargic baby. An infected infant will first experience constipation, followed by a weak cry, poor feeding and sucking ability, droopy eyelids, and overall weakness. Noticing these warning signs and seeking medical attention is the best way to ensure a safe recovery if the baby is infected.

The most important thing to remember is that infant botulism is preventable. You can keep your baby safe by NOT feeding your baby honey, even in baked goods, and keeping honey away from your baby’s pacifier, water and medications. Once the infant is over 12 months old, you can relax and allow your little one some honey.

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