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You should not give honey to babies under 2 years old as it can contain the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, a type of bacteria that causes infant botulism, which is a serious intestinal infection that can cause paralysis of the limbs and even death sudden. However, this is not the only food that is capable of causing botulism, as the bacteria can also be found in vegetables and fruits.
For this reason, it is recommended that the baby is fed exclusively from breast milk when possible, especially in the first few months of life. This is the safest way to ensure that the child is protected from external factors that can cause illness, since the baby does not yet have defenses to fight bacteria, for example. In addition, breast milk in the first few months contains the necessary antibodies to help the baby form and strengthen its natural defense system. Discover all the benefits of breastfeeding.
What can happen if the baby consumes honey
When the body absorbs contaminated honey, it can affect neurons within 36 hours, causing muscle paralysis and directly affecting breathing. The most serious risk of this intoxication is sudden newborn death syndrome, in which the baby may die during sleep without having previously shown signs and symptoms. Understand better what sudden infant death syndrome is and why it happens.
When can the baby consume honey
It is safe to consume honey for babies only after the second year of life, as the digestive system will be more developed and mature to fight the botulism bacteria, without risk to the child. After the second year of life, if you choose to give honey to the child, ideally it should be served at room temperature.
Although there are some brands of honey that are currently certified by the National He alth Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), and that are within the quality standards imposed by the government, the ideal is not to provide honey to babies under two years, as there is no guarantee that this bacteria has been completely removed.
What to do if baby eats honey
If the baby ingests honey, it is necessary to see a pediatrician immediately. The diagnosis will be made by observing clinical signs and in some cases laboratory tests may be requested. Treatment for botulism is by gastric lavage, and in certain cases, the child may need breathing apparatus. Recovery is usually quick and the baby is not at risk from the treatment.
It is recommended to pay attention to these signs for the next 36 hours after the baby has consumed honey:
- Effort to breathe;
- Difficulty lifting head;
- Arms and/or legs stiffness;
- Total paralysis of arms and/or legs.
If two or more of these signs appear, it is recommended to return to the nearest he alth center, as these signs are signs of botulism, which should be evaluated again by the pediatrician.