Honey pacifier use among an indigent pediatric population

Pediatrics. 2013 Jun;131(6):e1838-41. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-3835. Epub 2013 May 6.


Background: Use of honey pacifiers by infants presenting to a pediatric clinic at a county hospital in Houston, Texas, was observed by several of our staff members. Although we could not find any published studies linking the use of honey pacifiers to infant botulism, we also could not find any studies assessing the prevalence of honey pacifier use in general.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, descriptive study using a novel survey that had 19 items. The survey was administered to the parents of children up to age 12 months presenting to a county hospital pediatric clinic for well-child care in Houston, Texas, from February 2010 to April 2011.

Results: There were 397 respondents. Approximately 11% of the respondents reported using honey pacifiers with their infant children. Reasons for use included tradition, infant preference, and perceived health benefits (eg, helps with constipation or colic). Approximately 20% of the honey pacifier users and 23% of the entire group reported knowledge of honey potentially causing an illness in children <12 months of age. Nearly 40% of all respondents also reported using herbal or folk remedies.

Conclusions: Honey pacifier use was relatively common among this population, seen in ∼1 out of 10 respondents. A majority of the mothers surveyed (∼80%) were unaware of the potential dangers of giving honey to infants under age 12 months. Herbal medicine use was also common.

Keywords: food-borne botulism; herbal medicine; honey; infantile; knowledge; pacifiers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Botulism / epidemiology*
  • Botulism / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Honey / adverse effects*
  • Honey / microbiology*
  • Honey / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pacifiers / adverse effects
  • Pacifiers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Texas
  • Young Adult