Last updated on Feb 3rd, 2021 at 01:17 pm

“Babies under 12 months should not be given honey. This is because it can contain spores of a bacterium called clostridium botulinum, which can infect a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism. This is a rare, but potentially fatal, illness,” says nutritional therapist Hannah Kaye.

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Very young babies generally do not have the ability to handle botulinum spores. If an infant ingests them, the bacteria germinate, multiply, and produce a toxin. This toxin interferes with the normal interaction of muscles and nerves and can hamper an infant’s ability to move, eat and breathe.

Who is most at risk?

The illness usually affects babies between three weeks and six months of age.

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Symptoms of infant botulism

Symptoms typically appear within 12 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, but may occur as early as a few hours and as late as 14 to 30 days after ingestion.

Constipation is one of the first symptoms, so it’s important to call your doctor if your baby hasn’t had a bowel movement in more than three days.

Other symptoms include:

  • Flat facial expression
  • Poor feeding
  • Weak cry
  • Decreased movement
  • Trouble swallowing with excessive drooling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Breathing problems.

“Infant botulism is extremely rare and most babies fully recover,” says Hannah.