Many parents have no idea that there are foods – or ingredients – that are dangerous for their baby. Babies that are under one year old are at risk of Infant Botulism, caused by the bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. If they are fed certain foods or ingredients that contain these spores, they can get food poisoning and possibly die.
Honey and corn syrup are the two most common foods that cause Botulism; therefore they should never be given to a child under one year old. Even small amounts, like dipping the pacifier in honey, could lead to deathly food poisoning.
In addition, the actual amount of cases of Botulism is still in question, due to the fact that many are either misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. It has been noted that after children are over one year old, the risk of Botulism decreases significantly.
Signs of Infant Botulism (usually occur within 8-36 hours of ingestion):
- Constipation (this is quite often the first sign)
- Weakness and loss of muscle tone, inability to control their head
- A weak cry
- Poor feeding
- Weak sucking
- Sagging eyelids
- Respiratory distress
- Possible paralysis
If you think that your infant has ingested either honey or corn syrup, contact your pediatrician immediately. They will conduct a physical exam and can also perform blood tests or a stool culture to detect the toxin in your baby’s system. If you have the actual container of honey or corn syrup, lab tests can also be performed to verify whether or not there is botulism present.
Treatment for Infant Botulism:
Botulism is easily treated with an antitoxin if detected early on. If respiratory issues are presented, hospitalization may be required and IV fluids can be given if necessary.
Parents should also be mindful when feeding their infants items such as raisins, grapes, nuts, peas, apples, raw carrots, popcorn, hard candies and hot dogs. No matter how you cut these food items, they can present a choking hazard.