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FDA Cautions Parents Against Giving Babies Honey-Filled Pacifiers

One of the first things your pediatrician will tell you is not to give your baby honey until after they turn a year old. Honey can contain botulism spores, and while it’s usually harmless for older kids and adults, for young babies and their immature digestive tract it can be potentially deadly. This month the Texas Department of State Health Services is issuing a warning to serve as a reminder to all parents not to give babies pacifiers filled with honey. Four babies in Texas had to be treated for botulism and according to the state's health department in each case, the babies were given pacifiers purchased from Mexico that contained honey.

The four babies, each from different parts of the state, struck with the illness had to be hospitalized and received life-saving treatment.

Botulism can be a deadly illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves. Symptoms can start with a weakness of the muscles that control the eyes, face, mouth, and throat. Botulism can also make breathing difficult and lead to paralysis.

Honey is known to contain the botulism bacteria that produce the toxin in the intestine of a baby. You don’t need to worry about it for long. Parents should avoid honey for the first 12 months, but after your baby turns 1 year they’ve developed other types of bacteria in their digestive tract to prevent the botulism bacteria from growing.

You would be hard-pressed to find a honey filled pacifier in the U.S. but it would not take too much searching to find one online. The pacifiers aren’t designed for the honey to be consumed, but many have a small hole and the honey can easily leak out, or the pacifier can rupture leading the child to consume the honey. Texas has seen a number of these cases reported in recent years, about seven to eight cases of infant botulism every year for the last few years.

The FDA has also issued a warning to parents after the troubling reports in Texas, urging parents not to buy pacifiers filled or dipped with honey. They’re also calling on online retailers to discontinue selling these products. If you are in the market for a pacifier go with a trusted brand and avoid anything that is filled or dipped in any sort of sugary substance.

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