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August 1984

Mormons, Honey, and Infant Botulism

Author Affiliations

Department of Internal Medicine University of Virginia School of Medicine Charlottesville, VA 22908

Am J Dis Child. 1984;138(8):794-795. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1984.02140460084030

Sir.—There are approximately 3 million members of the Mormon religion in the United States. Honey is a principal component of their home food storage program.

In 1978 and 1979, several organizations recommended that honey not be fed to infants under 1 year of age because of its implication in the pathogenesis of infant botulism.1 I recently saw a young Mormon mother giving honey water to her 6-week-old infant to supplement breast feedings. Both she and the next eight Mormon mothers encountered reported that no physician had ever advised against giving honey to their infants.

Mormon families principally live in the western United States, with large numbers in Utah, California, and Arizona. This geographic distribution also is identical for most cases of infant botulism.2

Religious background has not been a surveyed risk factor for infant botulism. Mormons have a lower incidence of some diseases because of their religious