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The Informed Parent

Questions & Answers: Honey on Pacifiers; Ear Infections

by Louis P. Theriot, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Aug. 23, 1999

Q: My 8 month old uses a pacifier and it gives her much comfort. Whenever my mother-in-law watches her, she dips the pacifier in honey. I've told her not to do this and I can't remember why it is not a good idea. Does it have to do with damaging her teeth?

A: You are absolutely correct in not letting your baby receive any honey at this age. In fact, it is recommended that infants not get ANY honey for the first year of life. The main reason for this is because there has been shown to be an increased incidence of infantile botulism with the ingestion of honey by infants under one year. The honey can be contaminated by the bacteria that causes botulism. The spores from the bacteria have actually been found in the honey. This is only a potential problem for children under one year of age.

Q: I have two questions for you. Are ear infections contagious? It seems that every time my son gets an ear infection, my daughter gets one a few days later. Also, can my children fly on an airplane if they have an ear infection?

A: There is absolutely no evidence that ear infections are contagious. This has been looked at in numerous studies over the years. What does happen however, is that one sibling will get a cold or an upper respiratory tract infection and pass it along to their other sibling. Since the middle ear space (where ear infections occur) is a part of the upper respiratory tract, it is very vulnerable to becoming secondarily infected itself...thus, an ear infection. The answer to your second question is a simple one. There is absolutely no data that suggests that children with ear infections should not fly in an airplane as long as they have been seen by a doctor and are being treated. As for the pressure changes, being in a pressurized plane at 30,000 feet is the equivalent of being at an altitude of 7,000 feet.

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