Can botulism be passed through breastmilk? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 12-02-2006, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a friend whose infant is very ill in the hospital with suspected botulism and they are trying to find the source. Mom is not suspecting perhaps a can of mushrooms she prepared a week ago. She ate it, but of course baby is 5 mos and did not. Baby breastfeeds and receives no jarred food, but has just tried rice cereal recently (almost 6 mos old). Could it have been passed via breastmilk?

Amy, USCG wife and homeschooling, ebfing, homebirthing Mama to M (8), L (6), L (2.5)
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#2 of 8 Old 12-03-2006, 04:50 PM
 
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Oh no, that poor baby! I'm a microbiologist and I can't imagine any way the baby could have gotten botulism through breast milk. Babies usually get it by ingesting spores of the bacteria that causes botulism in some type of food which could not have gotten in the mom's milk. Did you friend have botulism?

She didn't give the baby any honey did she? Or does she have any older kids who might have given him some? I read of a case where an infant who was exclusively nursing got botulism and they couldn't figure out where it came from. Then the 3 yo said how he gave the baby some honey on his spoon. Honey could be contaminated with the spores but older members of the household wouldn't get sick from it.

I hope the baby recovers quickly!!
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#3 of 8 Old 12-04-2006, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi! Thanks for responding, I hope you are still around to answer questions! Mom did not get botulism, and from what I read you are certainly right that baby could not have gotten it through breastmilk. They have older kids, but I don't think there was any honey around recently. I do have a question though. Bolthouse carrot juice was recalled recently. They said the recall did not affect their carrots bc of how the carrots were packaged, for some reason the bacteria cannot grow. SO my question is, if the bacteria were in there, would they die or just not reproduce? My friend had bolthouse organic carrots in the house that week and ate them. Could there have been bacteria on the carrots that did not afftect mom and make her sick, but have gotten on her hands and she therefore transfer them to baby's mouth, paci, touch her breast before breastfeeding her, etc? I realize many cases of botulism never have a traceable source, but I know my friend is going bananas trying to find it and this is her most recent suspect.

Amy, USCG wife and homeschooling, ebfing, homebirthing Mama to M (8), L (6), L (2.5)
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#4 of 8 Old 12-04-2006, 11:10 PM
 
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It could be passed that way if the carrots had spores on them. The bacteria cannot usually colonize people over about 1 year because of the bacteria that are already in their gut. So the mom could have eaten some and not gotten sick. But who knows.

I read this paper http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5202a1.htm and it sounds like babies can also ingest the spores from dust and dirt. It must be really frustrating not knowing how her baby got sick.

How is the baby doing??
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#5 of 8 Old 12-05-2006, 12:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks. That's kind of what we were thinking, that spores could have been on the carrots themselves. Once the CDC confirms it's botulism, they will likely send out people to test the suspect food she has been putting aside.

The baby is doing better, thank goodness. She received antidote Friday and is off the ventilator now and responsive. The new antidote they have is absolutely amazing, average hospital stays are down to 2.6 weeks from 5 weeks!!!

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#6 of 8 Old 12-06-2006, 01:33 AM
 
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I don't think it was the carrots. The problem in the juice was not the juice itself but that people were taking the juice that should have been put in the fridge and storing it in their pantry/room temperature. Carrots are a low acid food and can grow botulism--so carrots and green beans and other low acid foods that aren't canned properly are the most common botulism sources in adults. Since the juice wasn't "canned properly" (should have been in the fridge) and yet people didn't put it in the fridge it grew botulism--in two cases I think--no one else who put it in the fridge got sick and none of it tested positive for it other than those cases where it sat out for a week or more. Also the carrot juice affected was actually well before the recall period; by the time the recall notice came out all the affected juice had expired--they just recalled all of it and the new carrot juice will be canned essentially (ick..). I doubt your friend left the carrots out for days and even if she did I don't think they would be dangerous. (oh, I know all this because my boys drank gallons of bolthouse carrot juice during the recall period, including the recalled batches, and I had a bit of a panic when the recall came out). I think it is most likely (most cases of infant botulism) it was dust. Botulism is in dust, dirt, etc. everywhere.

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#7 of 8 Old 12-06-2006, 02:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by True Blue View Post
Mom is not suspecting perhaps a can of mushrooms she prepared a week ago. She ate it, but of course baby is 5 mos and did not. Baby breastfeeds and receives no jarred food, but has just tried rice cereal recently (almost 6 mos old).
Was it a commercial can of mushrooms or something she jarred herself? I ask b/c fresh mushrooms are known for harboring spores of Clostridium botulinum. We adults can eat all the Clostridium botulinum spores we want and not get sick (a spore is kind of like a cacoon). The reason for that is that Clostridium botulinum must germinate into the enterotoxin to make an adult ill; it can only do this in an oxygen free environment like a can. If Clostridium botulinum was present on a canned mushroom then it should have made mom ill too.

A spore from a fresh mushroom could make an infant ill since their digestive tracts are very immature. If mom was canning the mushrooms herself, she could have gotten spore on her hands or something that made its way into baby's mouth.

I'm glad the baby is doing better - what a horrible situation!

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#8 of 8 Old 12-06-2006, 09:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Commercial mushrooms. She's a homeschooling mom of 4 there is no time for such things as canning at home LOLOL!!!

Amy, USCG wife and homeschooling, ebfing, homebirthing Mama to M (8), L (6), L (2.5)
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