Powdered Infant Formula Possible Culprit in New Mexico Infections, DeathDec 1, 2008
One child in New Mexico has died from a rare infection sometimes associated with powdered infant formula, the Associate Press reported. According to the report, a second child in the state is hospitalized with an infection from a different strain of the same bacteria, called Enterobacter sakazakii.
Enterobacter sakazakii is an extremely rare bacterial infection. According to a press release issued by the New Mexico Department of Health, there have been about 120 cases recorded across the world in all age groups, but infants are at particular risk. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said some proportion of powdered formulas that have been tested in the past have contained Enterobacter sakazakii or other bacteria that can cause disease. However, there are other possible avenues of Enterobacter sakazakii infection.
Symptoms of Enterobacter sakazakii infection include poor feeding response, irritability, jaundice, grunting respirations and unstable body temperature, with infection progressing to meningitis in a large number of neonatal cases. According to the CDC, death has been reported in up to 50 percent of neonatal patients, occurring within a few hours to several days. Surviving infants may experience neurological impairment and central nervous system infection. The CDC also says that emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of Enterobacter sakazakii has been observed.
In its press release, the New Mexico Department of Health said that one baby boy from Otero County had died from his infection. The other child, a girl from Lea County, is hospitalized. Testing has determined that the two infants had different strains of the bacteria. According to the press release, both babies did consume powdered formula in addition to other foods.
The Department of Health said it is working with the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and New Mexico Environment Department to try to determine what caused the babies to develop the infection. The Department of Health has interviewed families and conducted environmental and food testing. The Department said it expects test results to be available in about a week.
While the investigation continues, the New Mexico Department of Health has warned parents and caregivers to use caution in the preparation of powdered infant formula. To that end, the department issued the following recommendations:
- The best option for your baby is to breastfeed if possible.
- Talk to your health-care provider before trying or changing to a new formula.
- Prepare a small amount of formula for each feeding to reduce the amount and time that formula is at room temperature before your baby drinks it.
- If you have prepared formula and your baby has not had any, throw the formula away within two hours of preparation. If your baby drank out of the bottle, throw away any leftover formula within one hour.
- Always wash your hands before preparing formula or any food for yourself or family members.
- Prepared formula in a refrigerator should be used within 24 hours.