Two babies were infected with rare bacteria sometimes found in powdered infant formula

by Lucas Garcia
Infant Formula Contamination

Two infants have been infected with the rare bacteria known as cronobacter sakazakii in 2023, leading to tragic consequences for their health. One child from Kentucky sadly lost their life after consuming Similac Total Care powdered formula, while a Missouri infant, Mira White, suffered brain damage after being diagnosed with a brain infection caused by the same bacteria.

These cases have raised concerns, as both infants had consumed powdered infant formula produced by Abbott Nutrition, the same company that was at the center of a crisis in 2022 due to the presence of this dangerous bacteria. However, federal health officials have stated that there is no evidence linking these infections to manufacturing issues, and therefore, no new recalls are warranted.

Cronobacter sakazakii is naturally occurring in the environment and can also contaminate infant formula once the packaging is opened. Despite these unfortunate incidents, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not identified any broader public health concerns related to these products.

In the case of Mira White, who continues to suffer from seizures and neurological damage, investigators were unable to establish a causal link between her infection and the Abbott factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, which produced the formula for premature babies. Similarly, no cronobacter was found in unopened cans of Similac NeoSure formula from Mira’s home.

Regarding the Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan, it was shut down in 2022 due to widespread contamination linked to cronobacter infections in infants, including fatalities. However, the company maintains that there is no evidence of contamination in sealed products or manufacturing conditions at their plants causing these illnesses.

The tragic cases highlight the often underestimated risk associated with powdered infant formula, especially for premature babies who have less developed immune systems. Powdered formula is not sterile and can harbor potentially harmful germs, which can easily be introduced into the product in a home environment. Food safety advocates emphasize the importance of educating parents and caregivers on proper preparation and use of powdered formula.

In response to these incidents, the CDC has advised parents to practice strict hygiene measures when handling powdered infant formula, including washing hands and sterilizing equipment and the environment before feeding newborns.

While these cases are heartbreaking, they shed light on the need for increased awareness of the risks associated with cronobacter sakazakii and the importance of proper handling of powdered infant formula to ensure the safety of vulnerable infants.

Please note that this information is provided for informative purposes and does not express any opinion or recommendation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Infant Formula Contamination

What is cronobacter sakazakii, and why is it a concern in powdered infant formula?

Cronobacter sakazakii is a rare and dangerous bacteria that can be found in the environment and, in some cases, in powdered infant formula. It is a concern because it can cause serious infections, particularly in very young infants and premature babies whose immune systems are not fully developed.

How have infants been affected by cronobacter sakazakii in powdered formula?

In 2023, two infants who consumed powdered infant formula made by Abbott Nutrition were infected with cronobacter sakazakii. Tragically, one child from Kentucky died, and another infant from Missouri suffered brain damage as a result of the infection.

Why hasn’t the FDA issued new recalls in response to these infections?

The FDA has not issued new recalls because there is no evidence linking these infections to manufacturing issues. Cronobacter sakazakii is naturally present in the environment and can also enter infant formula after the packaging is opened. The FDA believes there is no broader public health concern related to the product at this time.

What precautions should parents and caregivers take when using powdered infant formula?

Parents and caregivers should be aware that powdered infant formula is not sterile and can harbor potentially harmful germs. It is crucial to follow strict hygiene measures, including washing hands and sterilizing equipment and the feeding environment before preparing and using powdered formula, especially for newborns and premature infants.

Is there ongoing monitoring and investigation into this issue?

Yes, the CDC and FDA are actively monitoring and investigating cases of cronobacter sakazakii infections related to powdered infant formula. The CDC will begin formally tracking illnesses from this bacterium starting January 1, 2023.

Are there any legal actions related to these cases?

Yes, parents of affected infants have taken legal action. In one case, a lawsuit has been filed against Abbott, claiming that the company sold a defective product and should have warned parents of premature babies about the potential risks associated with powdered formula.

Please note that this information is provided for informational purposes and does not express any opinion or recommendation.

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SafetyFirst1 December 7, 2023 - 10:22 pm

Remember to wash hands, sanitize, and follow safety guidelines, folks!

HealthNut4Life December 8, 2023 - 6:06 pm

This is y I always breastfed my babies, so risky with formula


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