While honey is a very popular sweetener and considered a healthy alternative to sugar by most people, it can be deadly if given to babies under 1 years of age.
The reason for this is due to the risk of the honey containing botulism spores.
"They rely on the parents of infants to know not to feed honey to their babies."
If a baby under the age of 1 ingests honey contaminated with the botulism spores (Clostridium botulinum bacteria) it can lead to Infant Botulism, a very dangerous and even deadly illness.
The spores travel to the baby's large intestine, where it germinates and starts to produce Botulinum Toxin that blocks the nerve endings in the intestine and prevents the muscles to contract.
It further causes muscle weakness, loss of muscle tone, trouble with head controll, constipation, irritability, tiredness, difficulty feeding, sucking and swallowing, deminished facial expression, drooping eyelids, drooling, a weak altered cry, difficulty breathing and paralysis.
Symptoms usually occur within 18 to 36 hours after the honey containing spores are consumed.
The botulism spores get into the honey through contaminated dust or dirt and it is commonly known and accepted in the honey/bee farming community that honey can contain botulism spores.
The reason they do not try and prevent the spores from entering the honey (which would be difficult) or to test the final product is because the spores are not harmful to older children or adults (our intestinal acidity prevents it from germinating), it will pass right through you.
They rely on the parents of infants to know not to feed honey to their babies. Regardless of this, even if they wanted to remove the spores from the honey, it is very difficult as the spores are very hard to kill and even pasturisation won't kill them.
For this reason, you can't feed your infant any form of honey. Not raw or cooked, since cooking does not kill the spores. Thus be sure to check the ingredients on all baked goods as well, most breads also contain honey. Honey flavoured cereals and crackers are also a danger.
Now you may think, what magical change happens on my child's first birthday that she can now safely eat honey?
You see the thing is that somewhere between 6 and 12 months your baby's intestinal acidity changes and matures so that the botulism spores can no longer germinate and produce the botulinum toxin that causes illness.
But since you as a parent don't know the exact date between 6 and 12 months that your baby's intestinal acidity matured, you need to wait until 12 months when you can be certain the change has taken place. (Some parents choose to wait until 2 just because they feel they want to be overly cautious)
Be sure to share this article with other parents so that they can also keep their little ones safe.