Baby Care

Infant Botulism

What is infant botulism?
Infant botulism is a rare but serious form of food poisoning that affects babies up to a year old.

How is it caused?
Infant botulism is caused by Clostridium botulinum spores, which are sometimes found in both pasteurized and unpasteurized honey. When an infant ingests honey, bacteria from these spores can grow and produce toxins that could lead to paralysis.

Symptoms
Contact your doctor immediately if your baby shows signs of any of the following symptoms of infant botulism:
  • constipation
  • weak muscles
  • too weak to cry or suck as usual
  • a wobbly head because the neck is weak
  • lacks facial expression
  • weak arms and legs
  • has trouble breathing
  • is not able to swallow
Reduce your risk
Do not:
  • Do not give any type of honey to babies who are less than one year old.
  • Never add honey to your babies food, water, formula, or soother.
Do:
  • Only give honey to healthy children over one year of age. By this age, children have developed helpful bacteria in their intestines that protect against Clostridium botulinum spores. Therefore, their risk of developing infant botulism is very low.
Important Facts:
  • You cannot see, smell, or taste botulism. The bacteria and toxins that cause botulism do not change the colour, odour, or taste of food.
  • The bacterial spores that cause infant botulism are not easily destroyed by heat (cooking/boiling).

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