Is it true that bacteria in honey can cause botulism in babies?

Botulism is a term used for serious poisoning caused by toxins from the bacteria Clostridium botulinum . The toxins produced by these bacteria are known to be one of the most powerful poisons and can be life threatening. Botulism cases are actually rare, but the toxins produced by bacteria attack the nervous system of the brain, spine, and other nerves.

Not only that, this disease can cause muscle paralysis or paralysis. If not treated immediately, the paralysis spreads to the muscles that control breathing. Severe botulism in babies is something that might happen to babies, this is due to giving honey under 12 months of age. Bacteria in honey cause many cases of infant botulism in the world.

WHO states that honey is a food that is not safe for babies and should not be added to food, drinks, or formula milk given to babies aged less than 12 months. This technically applies to honey in processed foods. Many people think honey is not so dangerous for babies, there are also cultures that recommend giving honey to babies from birth and making it the baby’s first food. Though there are some facts about honey and the risks that occur to babies.

Also Read: Can Damage Nerve Function, Beware of These 4 Foods to Stay Away from Botulism

Symptoms of Botulism in Infants

Babies who experience botulism can be identified by symptoms such as the following:

  • Sluggish.

  • Decreased appetite.

  • Constipation.

  • Crying weak.

  • Looks limp drooping.

All of these symptoms result from muscle paralysis caused by poisonous bacteria. If the baby has these signs of botulism, take him to the hospital immediately as this disease can be life threatening. Also make sure you keep samples of food that may be contaminated with botulism bacteria for testing.

Botulism symptoms appear within 12 to 36 hours after the baby consumes the tainted honey, but can occur as early as a few hours and as long as 10 days. Symptoms of botulism in infants can last as long as 14 days.

Botulism Treatment in Infants

If the baby shows symptoms of botulism, then he must be taken to the hospital immediately. Babies must be treated in the ICU so that doctors can limit the amount of toxins in the baby’s body. The poison can affect the respiratory muscles, so the doctor will use a ventilator on the baby. Because the poison can affect the muscles to swallow, the doctor gives intravenous fluids to the baby or feeds them through a tube as a nutritional aid.

Anti-toxins are now available to treat infant botulism, a so-called intravenous botulism immune globulin (BIG-IV) that is given as soon as possible. Babies with botulism who receive BIG-IV recover faster. With early diagnosis and proper medical treatment, babies can fully recover from this disease.

Also Read: Must Know, 7 Important Facts about Botulism

Botulism Prevention

Even though it is a rare occurrence, it doesn’t hurt to take precautions. The reason is, the bacteria from these spores can come from anywhere and grow and reproduce in the intestines of babies and produce harmful toxins.

This condition can occur in babies up to 12 months of age. Ways to protect babies from botulism, you can do the following ways:

  • Avoid exposure to potentially contaminated soil or dust. Soil can contain botulinum spores, which can circulate in the air and be inhaled by the lungs. The risk of being exposed to contaminated soil is highest in construction and agricultural areas.

  • Don’t give honey to babies. Wild honey has the potential to be a source of C. botulinum spores . Avoid giving honey even in small amounts, the bacteria in honey are harmful to babies under 1 year of age.

  • Beware of canned food. Heat canned food for 10 minutes before serving it.

  • If the mother wants the benefits of honey to be accepted by the baby, then it would be better for breastfeeding mothers to consume honey. Because bacteria will not move through breast milk so it is safer.