Illinois authorities are investigating the death of a baby girl for a possible link to tainted infant formula. Batches of powdered Enfamil Newborn formula were pulled from store shelves of at least five national retailers, including Wal-Mart, after the death of a 10-day-old boy who developed a rare infection caused by a bacteria sometimes found in dried milk and powdered formula. Another baby was also sickened by the bacteria, but survived.
Preliminary tests do not show the baby girl’s death is linked to the bacterial infection; however, the Madison County (Ill.) Coroner’s office says it is ordering more lab tests before he rules out the possibility.
The bacteria, known as Cronobacter, can cause conditions such as neonatal bacteraemia, meningitis and necrotizing entercolitis, and can be deadly especially for newborns and infants.
The formula fell under suspicion after 10-day-old Avery Cornett of Lebanon, Missouri, died on Dec. 18, after becoming ill a few days earlier. Tests indicate he died of infection caused by bacteria known as Cronobacter sakazakii. The bacteria can be found in dried milk and powdered formula, although it also may occur naturally in plants such as wheat and rice.
Mead Johnson Nutrition, makers of the withdrawn formula product, says it has tested the infant formula in question and found no presence of bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are testing similar batches of the baby formula but have not indicated when they would finish their review.
Despite initial tests showing formula testing negative for the bacteria, other retailers followed Wal-Mart’s lead and withdrew the suspected product out of an “abundance of caution,” according to a statement released by SuperValu store on Friday. The product also was removed by Walgreen Co., Kroger Co., and Safeway. The withdrawn product is 12.5-ounce cans of Enfamil Newborn with the lot number ZP1K7G.
Mead Johnson says it has received no other “serious” complaints about the batches of formula. The company’s Enfa brands, which include Enfamil, make up 79 percent of the company’s $3.14 billion in 2010 sales and were the world’s leading brand franchise in pediatric nutrition based on retail sales.