Can I eat honey while breastfeeding?

(March 14, 2012)

Is eating honey, safe during pregnancy?

Eating honey while breastfeeding is considered to be safe provided the honey has been pasteurized. The digestive tract of the expectant mother is acidic and can therefore prevent the spores in the honey from germinating. As a result the honey ingested by the developing fetus through the breast milk will cause it no harm. Although it is safe to eat honey during pregnancy and breastfeeding it is important that the honey is of good quality. It is important to ensure that the honey is pasteurized. It is equally important to check the date of manufacture and expiry on the label to avoid eating toxic honey. On the other hand it is not advisable to feed honey to infants or children below the age of 1 as it can cause infant botulism which can even result in death. An infant’s digestive tract is immature and cannot prevent the spores in the honey from germinating further.

Submitted by N H on March 14, 2012 at 01:25

Breastfeeding mothers often worry about the pregnancy diet and medications they consume, and rightly so. Everything a breastfeeding mother consumes can be passed on to her baby through her breast milk. This is why pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to avoid several drugs that might have a negative impact on their baby. Some foods and drugs can also have an effect on the mother herself. At a time when her body is already under considerable strain and pressure, such side effects are best avoided.

Honey is a food that is consumed practically all over the world. It is produced by bees, and is highly prized both for its unique taste and its health benefits. Honey may be consumed plain, as an ingredient in a salad or a dish, or as part of a home remedy. While many home remedies during pregnancy seem to work either as placebos or not at all, the case of honey is quite different. Carefully conducted studies have shown that honey does in fact have antiseptic and antibacterial properties. The pH level of honey inhibits the growth of bacteria, and its osmotic effect too provides conditions in which bacteria and other microorganisms find it difficult to grow. Honey is therefore often used to treat wounds, and has recently found special use in treating diabetic ulcers, for which there are very few other treatment options. It has also been found useful in the treatment of colitis. Of course the most popular use of honey is in treating sore throats, and this too has been confirmed by scientific evidence.

However, breastfeeding women are often advised to avoid raw honey. This is because raw honey sometimes contains endospores of a type of bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum. Adult humans have digestive systems that are fully developed and are therefore able to digest and destroy the spores. In the immature digestive tract of a newborn, on the other hand, the endospores are able to survive and develop into toxic bacteria. The resulting condition, known as botulism, is extremely severe and can even cause death. It is important to note that these spores can also be found in household dust and this can also cause botulism in new born babies. The mother’s digestive system will eliminate these spores and so the chance of it being present in breast milk is extremely low. However, it would still be better to avoid raw honey and if you need to consume it, make sure that you only use processed honey. Make sure that you speak to your doctor about the various types of honey and which one would be best suited to your needs.

Submitted by P T on August 13, 2010 at 12:46

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