Honey accidentally eaten by baby

I accidentally fed my four-month-old one teaspoon of raspberries sweetened with honey. I know babies under one aren't supposed to have honey. Should I have my child, or the honey, tested for botulism?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

My guess is that everything will be fine. The danger with honey is that it can potentially be contaminated with botulism spores. These spores usually do not survive in the adult human body because the environment is too acidic. However, a baby's digestive system is not yet mature, nor acidic enough, to always inhibit the growth of these spores. The problem with the spores is that they can produce the deadly botulinum toxin. Unlike other food poisonings that affect the GI system, botulism affects the nervous system.

There is no need to test your baby for botulism unless you detect symptoms. Early signs include fatigue, dizziness, and headache. Diarrhea may appear at first, but because the nervous system is affected, constipation occurs later. Symptoms usually arise in 18 to 36 hours, but can take up to a week.

I am not trying to scare you -- botulism is RARE -- but when it does occur, it can be deadly. Just watch your baby for the next few days, and keep the source of honey that he was fed. Giving anti- toxin as soon as possible, if the person is affected, can be lifesaving.

Many babies are fed honey, as parents or caretakers are unaware of the potential harm, and yet they suffer no consequences. You just don't want to take the chance. Bad results from honey ingestion is possible, but not probable.

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