- Two British boys, 3 months and 5 months, put on life-support machines
- Only cured of botulism after £50,000 medication flown over from America
- Sparked warning from health chiefs against babies under 1 eating honey
- The disease is caused by bacteria in soil possibly spread by bees
- Two British babies have contracted a rare life-threatening disease triggered by eating honey.
- The boys, aged three months and five months, had to be put on life-support machines suffering from infant botulism.
Both had been feeding badly and showed typical symptoms – a floppy head, drooping eyelids and constipation. They were cured only after medication costing £50,000 a dose was flown in from America.
The incidents, confirmed last week, have prompted public health chiefs to warn that infants under one should not be given honey.
The younger boy had eaten honey, while the older one had been given a homeopathic treatment that may have contained honey, which can carry the potentially deadly bacteria. The identities of the babies treated and the hospitals involved have not been disclosed.
But according to the latest health protection report from Public Health England, the five-month-old was diagnosed just before Christmas in central or southern England.
He may still be in hospital because recovery can sometimes take six months. He had taken the homeopathic remedy before becoming ill, though tests on it showed no trace of botulism.
The three-month-old was treated at a children’s hospital in northern England and has recovered.
The disease is caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which lives in the environment, especially soil. If bees pick it up they can infect honey.
Dr Kathie Grant, a disease surveillance expert for Public Health England, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I am concerned that not enough mothers and women know about infant botulism and what can cause it. Children under 12 months should not be fed honey.
‘They don’t need homeopathic preparations or herbal tea. They should also be kept away from dust and soil and pet terrapins.’
The disease is rare, with only 17 UK cases since 1978.
But health chiefs are concerned that nine have occurred in the past five years and of these seven babies had eaten honey.
In one of the nine cases a baby was infected from dust falling during a loft conversion while another caught botulism from pet terrapins kept at home.
Dr Grant said: ‘Mothers think honey is natural and good for babies. There is also a tradition for honey to be used on a dummy to soothe a troubled baby or to sweeten other foods, but we are urging people not to do it.’
She advised that any baby who is constipated for three days should be taken to see a GP and for parents to watch out for other symptoms such as difficulty in swallowing.
Social networking forums Mumsnet and Netmums have scores of queries from new mothers asking if honey is safe for babies, while older mothers admit they only learned about the risk from an old episode of BBC 1’s Casualty.
- 30,534 hits
Adopt A Hive
To Adopt 1/12 Share
Adopt A Hive Full Share
Top Posts & Pages
Honey Bee News
- Follow Adopt A Hive on WordPress.com
adoptahive on What we can learn from the anc… Kevin Currell on What we can learn from the anc… These Photos Capture… on These Photos Capture The Start… spookmoor on Tales Of Bees And The Dearly… Adopt A Hive on Waggle Dance Detectives