When it comes to your baby, you aim for the most organic, natural ingredients to strengthen their immune system. Although honey seems like a wholesome and natural food to give your infant, it can be potentially dangerous. According to the World Health Organization, honey should not be fed to infants under 12 months of age, whether added to their formula, used to soothe teething, or employed to sweeten foods. In Canada, honey has been linked to cases of infantile botulism. About 70 to 90 cases of infant botulism are reported each year, according to Health Canada. Read on to find out more:

Canadian health agencies have noticed a spike in cases of infant botulism across the country. During the last three months, babies in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta suffered from the rare but potentially fatal form of food poisoning.

Why is Infant Botulism?

Infant botulism is a gastrointestinal condition. This caused when a baby ingests spores from a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. These bacteria are found in honey. Spores of c. botulinum, found in the environment, are picked up by bees and brought to the hive.

Bacteria from the spores can grow and multiply in a baby’s intestines, producing a toxin inside the baby’s digestive tract that can be absorbed into the body and have severe effects on the baby’s muscle control. In rare and extreme cases, breathing muscles can become paralyzed. If mechanical assistance is not provided, the baby could die. The condition can occur in infants up to age 12 months.

Infant holding parent’s finger

What are the symptoms?

Some of the most common symptoms of Infant Botulism are:

  • Constipation
  • Irritability
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lack of facial expression
  • Troubled breathing
  • Inability to swallow


Can it be treated?

If your baby develops this disease, they may require hospital care. Doctors pay close to proper nutrition and pulmonary aid. Without immediate treatment, the toxins can cause paralysis of the diaphragm may result in respiratory collapse. While most cases require hospitalization, fatal cases are rare. However, prevention is better than cure. Thus, Infants under 12 months of age should not be given any honey. This includes honey as a sweetener for formula, the water of food, and even honey-flavored soothers.

Parents want to keep their babies safe all the time. However, emergencies can occur out of nowhere, and it’s better to stay prepared. At Metro Safety Training, we provide a range of First Aid training courses in BC, which is essential to be able to provide immediate treatment to your infant in case of injuries. For more information, contact us at 604 521 4227 to register today.