Please never feed honey to children under one year old because honey is the only food in Canada linked to infant botulism, a serious disease. This includes never adding honey to baby food and never using honey on a soother.
Infant botulism is caused by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum, which can’t grow or make toxins in honey, but if an infant swallows honey, the spores in the bacteria may grow and produce toxins in the baby’s body and could cause paralysis.
“Bees may pick up the botulism spores from flowers or soil and the spores are not destroyed in the processing of honey. After the age of one, children’s intestinal bacteria successfully prevent growth of C. botulinum.”
The bacteria is not destroyed by cooking.
Furthermore, you cannot detect this bacteria and its toxin because they are microscopic and do not change the colour, odour or taste of food.
There have been 38 reported cases of infant botulism in Canada between 1979 and 2010.
If your infant does ingest honey, immediately contact your doctor if your child shows any of these symptoms:
- Is too weak to cry or suck as usual;
- Does not have bowel movements and has weak muscles;
- Has a wobbly head because the neck is weak;
- Lacks facial expression;
- Has weak arms and legs;
- Has trouble breathing, or
- Is not able to swallow.