Here's the Reason Why Babies Really Shouldn't Eat Honey

Trevor English

If you've ever raised a child, you likely know that children under the age of one should never be allowed to eat honey. Honey has the possibility of containing Clostridium Botulinum, a bacteria that has the possibility of producing Botulinum toxin. This may be something that you already knew, but let's examine the science behind this fact in greater detail.

[Image Source: Pixabay]

Botulinum toxin: the most poisonous natural substance known to man

Botulinum spores are found in many places throughout our everyday lives: soil, dust, and honey. Humans over the age of one often ingest botulinum spores and will never know, but humans under the age of one can fall very ill. When an infant ingests a spore or spores, they have the possibility of germinating in the baby's gastrointestinal system due to its immaturity.

By immaturity, it is meant that the gut of babies is not able to handle more complex digestive issues presented with live botulinum spores. In essence, a baby's gut allows these spores to get stuck inside their gut and germinate – where harmful botulinum toxin can be produced.

Botulinum toxin is dangerous to all humans. It can grow in spoiled canned meat and other rotten protein-rich foods. A derivative of botulinum toxin is also what is injected into people's skin when they undergo botox. The toxin in this case simply numbs the nerve endings in the injected area for a certain amount of time, keeping the muscles in the area from contracting. If ingested or overdosed, the results of the toxin can be a lot more than simply cosmetic.

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Have you ever wondered what the most poisonous natural substance known to man was? It's botulinum toxin. A lethal dose of the toxin is only .0000001 mg per kg of body weight. This is so little that you wouldn't be able to see a volume of this size. The toxin kills you by paralyzing your muscles, much like in botox, but this time, it paralyzes the muscles that allow you to breath, thus suffocating you – or a baby.

Here's the Reason Why Babies Really Shouldn't Eat Honey

[Image Source: Pixabay]

Infant botulism

Along with honey, babies can also ingest spores from vacuum cleaner dust or dirt tracked in from shoes. These sources are generally less preventable than honey ingestion, which is why avoiding honey for young babies is such a prominent practice. If you've heard of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome, it is assumed that infant botulism accounts for about 10% of all of the SIDS cases across the world.

Some other statistics about cases of infant botulism pose some seemingly odd conclusions. Most cases of infant botulism occur in babies who belong to relatively wealthy, educated, white mothers. Europe also only sees about 1 case of infant botulism a year and the U.S. sees about 75 (~20 due to honey).

Here's the Reason Why Babies Really Shouldn't Eat Honey

[Image Source: Pixabay]

On a less confusing and more helpful note, it was found that 9 out of every 90 jars of honey, so 10% contain botulinum spores before being brought into a home. This ultimately is a large percentage and a rather good reason that you should keep honey away from your young children.

Finally, for all you worried parents out there, here are some parameters and indications of infant botulism. It occurs in babies 6 weeks to 6 months of age most commonly. Another indicator of a disturbed gut which could eventually cultivate botulinum is infrequent bowel movements (fewer than 1 a day for a period greater than 2 months). This stagnation in the gut can allow for botulinum to flourish, but it doesn't mean your baby has the toxin inside them. If you would like to learn more about the symptoms, you can find those here in a post written by a doctor and not an engineer.

Sources: Dr. GreeneDaily MailThe Guardian

SEE ALSO: Crawling Robot Helps Babies Combat Cerebral Palsy

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