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Honey pacifiers linked to recent increase in infant botulism, officials warn

(iStock/Clint Scholz)

Cases of infant botulism are rare in Texas, but since August, four babies have been treated for infant botulism, prompting the Texas Department of State Health Services to issue a warning to parents about honey pacifiers.

The agency issued a health alert Friday, warning parents that the honey in pacifiers may contain spores that produce a potent neurotoxin known to make infants severely ill.

In the past four years, Texas has averaged seven to eight cases of infant botulism annually, making the four recent cases are abnormal.

While the four infants all had a history of using a honey pacifier purchased in Mexico, the DSHS said honey pacifiers and other food-containing pacifiers are available for sale online and at other retailers.

According to the health alert, the babies are susceptible to illness due to the fact that their intestinal flora have not fully matured. 

Symptoms include constipation, poor feeding, drooping eyelids, loss of head control, difficulty breathing and even death, according the DSHS.

"Consumption of honey is widely recognized as a risk factor for infant botulism by healthcare and public health professionals," the health alert states.