Friday, December 23, 2011

How safe are infant formulas? - INFACT Canada, 2002

There is considerable attention being given to the death of a week-old baby in Missouri, possibly due to powdered infant formula contamination. INFACT Canada wrote in 2002 about about the similar death of week-old baby in Belgium due to powdered infant formula contaminated with E. sakazakii and subsequent investigations by the FDA and Health Canada. "Of the 49 cases studied, 10 were identified with positive E. sakazakii cultures..." From the article:

“A subsequent investigation to determine the extent of infection with E. sakazakii triggered the FDA warning. The surveillance study found that of 49 cases studied, 10 were identified with positive E. sakazakii cultures. A cohort study was performed to determine the possible risk factors for the infection. Medical records were reviewed to assess risk factors such as gestational age, birth weight, medications, type and mode of feeding. Results of the risk nalysis determined that only the use of Portagen Mead Johnson powdered formula was associated with the E. sakazakii infections. All case patients had received the contaminated powdered formula.

Stating that, “Clinicians should be aware that powdered formulas are not sterile products and might contain opportunistic bacterial pathogens such as those in the family Enterobacteriacae, including E. sakazakii,” the FDA warning notes, “These products are commonly used at many hospitals. A recent survey indicated that of 16 responding facilities, nine used powdered formulas.”

Around the same time a provisional warning to NICUs and other health care professionals was issued by Health Canada. What isn't clear is what the actual risk of illness is from what appears to be routine contamination. We know if powdered infant formula is properly prepared the risk is minimized. How many families who are discharged from hospital with powdered infant formula samples are given proper preparation instructions and the warning "your baby could die if you don't follow these instructions?"

A link to the full article is below:

How safe are infant formulas?: INFACT Canada, Spring 2002 -- The death of a one-week formula fed infant, Natan, born March 11, in Belgium raises important questions about the safety of breastmilk substitutes....