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Honey can be lethal for infants younger than 12 months

Posted April. 14, 2017 07:27,   

Updated April. 14, 2017 07:39

A 5-month-old baby in Tokyo died from honey intake on March 30, a. The cause of death was infant botulism.

Botulism is a type of poisoning accompanying neuroparalysis caused by the toxins produced from bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Infant botulism, which only affects babies younger than 12 months, develops when they are exposed to food contaminated with the toxins.

It turned out that the baby in question had been fed about 5 grams of honey mixed with vegetable juice twice a day for about a month. “Honey can harbor the toxins of Clostridium botulinum as a hotbed of sporulation. Botulinum is safe in and of itself, but the toxins it produces can be lethal to infants,” said Professor Lee Deok-hwan, who is teaching chemistry at Sogang University in Seoul.

For about 10 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended not to give honey to babies younger than one year old. In fact, a similar guideline had been implemented in Japan, making it mandatory to put warnings on local food products about the potential danger of honey intake. In an interview with a Japanese news outlet, the boy’s parents said they were unaware of such danger.

“If you’ve accidently fed honey to your baby, you should monitor them closely and feed them hot water profusely to dilute honey," advised Gwon O-gyun, a pediatrician. "Parents should learn about how dangerous honey can be and should not give honey to their babies until they reach the age of one year.”