A baby boy has died from a rare infection called Enterobacter Sakazakii – a rare bacterial infection of the bloodstream and central nervous systems in infants. The bacterium can be detected in the gut of healthy humans and in the gut of animals, as well as in the environment. The pathogen is also a rare cause of bacteremia and osteomyelitis in adults, but the outcomes related to adult disease seem to be significantly milder than those in infants whose death rate from this rare infection is 33%.
Powdered infant formula is not a sterile product and may be contaminated causing this infection to occur most often in newborns. Walmart has since said it is recalling a single batch of Enfamil powdered infant formula from its stores as a cautionary measure.
The FDA recommends that powdered infant formulas not be used in neonatal intensive care settings unless there is no other alternative available. If the only option available to address the nutritional needs of a particular infant is a powdered formula, risks of infection in healthy and sick newborn babies can be reduced by:
1) Preparing only a small amount of reconstituted formula for each feeding to reduce the quantity and time that formula is held at room temperature for consumption.
2) Do not hold reconstituted formula for longer than two hours without refrigeration.
3) Minimizing the holding time, while under refrigeration, before a reconstituted formula is fed.
4) Minimizing the amount of time a formula is at room temperature in the feeding bag and accompanying lines during enteral tube feeding, with no time exceeding 4 hours at room temperature. Longer times of having infant formula at room temperature should be avoided at all costs because of the potential for significant microbial growth in reconstituted infant formula.
The World Health Organization also recommends the following to avoid contamination of the powdered formula:
1) Washing your hands properly with soap and water.
2) Thoroughly sterilizing all feeding equipment in hot, soapy water and preparing enough formula for only one feeding at a time.