Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life

 Not So Sweet for Infants

September 2003 Issue

Food Allergies

Art & Music—The
Educational Advantage

Bundle-up Your Home
for Winter

Honey—Not So
Sweet for Infants

Did You Know?

Medicine Cabinet
Staples and Safety

Mail Bag

Gerber Life
Family Times Archive

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Honey—it’s golden, sweet and natural. For many health conscious people, honey is the sweetener of choice, preferred over refined white sugar. In addition, raw honey has many therapeutic uses due to its antibiotic properties. However, for all positive aspects of honey, there is one serious side that must be noted when children are concerned. Honey should not be given to children under one year of age. The reason—honey contains a deadly bacterium, Clostridium botulinum or botulism spores (the same as commonly found in dust and uncooked foods).

An adult’s stomach is mature and produces stomach acids and other factors that are capable of inhibiting the growth of the spores in the intestine. However, a young child’s digestive tract isn’t protective enough to keep the bacteria from growing. Once the bacterium is in the digestive tract of a young child, it grows and produces the toxin that causes botulism—a rare but potentially deadly disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone. These are all symptoms of the muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin. Symptoms of food-related botulism in adults usually appear 12 to 36 hours after ingesting contaminated food but may take several days. The period for infant botulism varies.

Steps to avoid infecting a baby are simple—don’t add honey to anything a baby may ingest and never give a baby a pacifier dipped in honey. Once a child reaches one year of age, the digestive system should be mature enough to eliminate the problem. As always, check with your family doctor or pediatrician.

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 Did You Know?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), of the average 110 cases of botulism that occur each year in the United States, 72% are infant botulism, 25% food borne and the remaining 3% are wound botulism.

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