Karo Syrup


I read online that 1 tsp of light Karo syrup mixed with 4 oz of water would assist your infant in having a softer bowel movement. Well I did that and I gave my infant some. Now I just read that corn syrup should not be given to an infant because it may contain spores of bacteria that cause botulism that can be fatal. Now I am very nervous for my baby’s health. Is there a danger for my baby?

Dr. Greene's Answer

You can relax. In the past, Karo syrup did contain botulism spores, but hasn’t for years now. They changed to a new manufacturing process because of just those concerns — even though no botulism cases were ever proven to come from the spores in Karo syrup (unlike honey, which should not be used in babies). A lot of people heard the alerts about *Karo syrup in the 90’s, but never heard the quieter, less flashy, changed recommendations that followed, so the warnings will still circulate around the net for years to come.

I applaud your reading a variety of sources and comparing to find the truth, and am sorry for the worry this caused. All the best to you and to your baby.

*Note: Children under age 1 should not eat honey because of the risk of infant botulism. Today, corn syrups are manufactured under sanitary conditions to prevent this, but the manufacturers do not make any guarantees. Of course, neither can I. The 2009 AAP Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases states, “Manufacturers of light and dark corn syrups cannot ensure that any given product will be free of botulism spores, but no case of infant botulism has been proven to be attributable to consumption of contaminated corn syrup”.

Medical Review on: August 28, 2011
About the Author
Photo of Dr. Alan Greene
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
Get Dr. Greene's Wellness RecommendationsSignup now to get Dr. Greene's healing philosophy, insight into medical trends, parenting tips, seasonal highlights, and health news delivered to your inbox every month.
Add your comment

Recent Comments

I don’t think anyone should use Karo Syrup. My beautiful infant niece was being given Karo Syrup back in 1988. When she was between 2 and 3 months old my sister found her in her bassinet not breathing and dropped her on I think it was the sofa in shock, this actually brought her around and she started breathing again. She was rushed to the hospital and her organs were shutting down and she was slowly dying. It was horrible. She had also just been to the doctor the evening before and was given her oral polio drops. Several days prior to the drops she had her DTP shot. They held off on the polio drops for several days because of infant thrush. I wouldn’t risk giving Karo syrup, even if they say it is different now. I remember the doctors being so puzzled as to what was happening to her. They said her bowels were sloughing away and she went into sepsis shock. They ended up ruling it as SIDS because they didn’t really know why this had happened to her. I don’t think they were ever made aware of the Karo syrup being given to her back then because I don’t think that was ever brought up. I often wonder if they would have asked and had known, they may have looked at things differently. Also being in the pediatrician’s office the evening before getting polio drops has to make you wonder about those also. Only The Lord knows what happened and why. She went home to be with Jesus.

I want you all to know that as long as your babies’ stools are loose and the correct color, there is no issue. Young babies have immature digestive tracts, so they may have discomfort when passing stools. Constipation in babies is when the stool itself is very hard like clay or like little pebbles. If the stool is loose and no red, white, or black, then your baby is fine. Please do not treat a problem that is not there. Some breastfed babies pass stools only once a week. Some after every feed.

My son is two weeks & a day old and it seems like he’s having trouble pooping. I don’t know what to do. I gave him a little corn syrup, but afraid it might hurt him.

I have a new grandson. He was born 5 weeks early but will be 2 months old next week. He strains so hard to have a bowel movement and seems to be in pain. His face turns red and he shrieks. His stool is loose so it doesn’t seem to be constipation. His pediatrician says this is normal but a I don’t think so. He just seems to be in a great deal of discomfort. Do you think Kayro syrup will help with this and is he too young to try it?

My son was 4 weeks early and is breastfed and seemed to have the same issue when he was a newborn…he is 6 mos now and still doesn’t go every day but about every other day or so..as long as baby doesn’t go more than a week they should be fine. Some babies are just not every day poopers.

I was just told that the Karo syrup I’m using to help with my daughter’s constipation could paralyze her until it is out of her system and her pediatrician told me to use it and I’m really worried. And she still isn’t pooping everyday yesterday was the 1st time in 2 days and she has been having Karo syrup in her bottles for about a week what else could I possibly do to help her go?

Some babies don’t poop more than once every 2 or 3 days. Try not to worry. Also, Karo is perfectly safe. It has been used for many years.