Subscribe to our Newsletter:
Healthy Diet Plans >>  Articles >>  Diet and Wellness

Honey and Infant Botulism

Submitted by Stella Morgan on July 13, 2007

Infant botulism is a paralytic disease, affecting the nervous system of infants, lesser than 12 months. It is a type of food poisoning, which accompanies honey intake by infants. Clostridium botulinum is the causative factor. These microbes are not harmful to adults and older children. But, they produce a toxin in infants, resulting in infant botulinum.

This disease is life threatening and affects the infant’s nervous system, thereby calls for hospitalization. Typical symptoms include flaccid and droopy arms and legs, weakness of muscles resulting in a faint cry, lethargy and poor suckling. Persistent constipation is also seen.

Bacterial spores of Clostridium botulinum, the culprit, grow well in honey. A neurotoxin is synthesized in the infantile intestine, causing poisoning. Spores are swallowed by infants, due to their availability in dust and soil.

The bees might carry the spores of botulism causing organism to the hives. Microbes in the pollen, soil, flowers and bees also contribute. Spores of botulism are harmless, but germinate in anaerobic conditions.

Honey is bactericidal in nature.

Though, in general, the risk associated with honey is less and are not associated with any infection or disease. The various beneficial factors camouflage this aspect, thereby proclaiming it to be a nutritious item of a meal. Infant feeds are recommended to avoid honey. Raw agricultural products suffer from increased risk of infection from soil and air, as they are not made sterile by heating. After processing of grains, contamination is potential, due to exposure to air.

Head coordination is lost and decrease in facial expression is a notable symptom, which in course of time can lead to death. Collapse in the respiratory system is a result of paralysis of the diaphragm. Hospitalization is essential for intervention. Tinned vegetables are made sterile, prior to packaging. Pulmonary support and balanced nutrition are essential for hastening treatment. Ventilation might be beneficial for a few cases. Antitoxins or antibiotics are not essential, though hospitalization might call for a few weeks stay.

Infant botulism is a primary causative factor for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), also referred to as ‘crib death’. Recommendations to avoid honey for infants are provided by many, to avoid complications. Honey is avoided in baby foods or milk. It is also not recommended on a soother or pacifier. Other techniques to soothe the baby should be opted. A physician’s guidance is required, during times of, weak crying, difficulty in passing bowels, swallowing difficulties and shaking head.
Read more articles from the Diet and Wellness Category.