Pregnancy is such a delicate yet wonderful challenge for women that entails discipline, determination and a lot of patience.
There are so many dos and don’ts during this nine-month period that most women feel like they’re walking on eggshells.
One of the biggest things to worry about during pregnancy is the mother’s diet. There are certain foods that can’t be eaten while carrying the baby – even ones that were usually consumed prior to the conception.
But it is such an amazing journey and every step of the way is worth it because of the tiny, precious human being growing inside the tummy.
As such, what the mother eats, ends up being “devoured” by the child as well. This is the reason moms-to-be should always take caution before eating certain foods.
Effects of Honey on Babies
When it comes to food expectant moms should watch out for, honey always comes to mind. Why is this so?
This naturally sweet syrup is a big no-no for children under the age of 1 because it can cause botulism, a life-threatening disease that can trigger the onset of paralysis because of the neurotoxin in a strain of bacterial spore called Clostridium botulinum usually found in honey.
If honey is so dangerous for newborns, why do adults consume it on a daily basis? That is because we already have a well-developed digestive system that is capable of handling the bacteria found in the raw substance, unlike infants.
So, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention already advised parents to refrain from feeding honey to their kids under 1.
Because the recommendation only underlines the dangers of honey for infants, most women might be wondering if they can safely consume this food during pregnancy without harming their unborn child. Before we delve deeper, let us first understand the science behind honey:
What’s Wrong with Honey?
According to the CDC, honey poses the biggest risk when it is consumed raw, which means that it still packs many strains of bacteria, including those that cause botulism, which might be harmful to digestive health.
Once the bacterial spores enter the body, it produces botulinum, a dangerous neurotoxin that can be life-threatening for humans.
When produced in a large quantity, this toxin can cause paralysis. However, the bacteria isn’t just found in honey, it is almost everywhere – from dust or soil to different surfaces in the house even after you just cleaned them.
This means that honey isn’t the only danger food that can expose children to the risk of botulism – it is actually all around us. For healthy children, the bacteria are usually harmless even when ingested.
However, the same can’t be said for newborns, who become more susceptible to getting sick if they accidentally ingest something that is contaminated with this bacterial strain.
It is worth noting that not all babies develop botulism, but just to be safe, the CDC said infants should not be fed honey simply because they still don’t have a lot of good bacteria in their tiny tummies to fight diseases.
Safe for Pregnant Women?
Going back for the case of pregnant moms, honey is actually safe for them to eat and won’t affect the baby’s health. This is because the mother is already an adult, which means she has a digestive microbiome environment in place to kill any Clostridium spores.
There is sufficient protective flora in the gut that prevents the harmful bacteria from multiplying, therefore botulism won’t develop.
You may argue that during pregnancy, women suffer from a weaker immune system, but in typical cases, there is no change in their gut health which means that they’ll still be able to prevent the risk of diseases.
It is also highly unlikely for the toxin to be passed onto the baby through the placenta. According to a study in the “Canadian Family Physician,” the spores are too big to even pass through the placenta and therefore they will never be able to reach the baby.
This means that even if the pregnant woman incurred botulism, there is no possibility that the bacteria can spread to the womb.
Obviously and as established in the first point, the disease isn’t common among pregnant women because they normally have healthy guts that are capable of killing all harmful bacteria.
However, it is worth noting that there have been cases of pregnant women developing botulism but there have never been reports of the disease passing on to the baby.
On a side note, pregnant women who have digestive disorders or gastrointestinal abnormality should always check with their doctors before consuming honey.
Also, consult with experts if you had a course of antibiotics recently because this type of medicine can impact the flora in the gut.