FDA, CDC help in investigation of baby formula suspected of causing newborn's death

Friday, December 23, 2011 | 4:19 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The state is helping investigate the death of a Missouri newborn caused by a rare bacterial infection that could be linked to a powder-based infant formula.

The state Department of Health and Senior Services has sent samples of the formula to the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Test results are pending.

The powdered formula believed to be the source of the infection is Enfamil PREMIUM® Newborn in 12.5-ounce cans, with the lot number ZP1K7G on the bottom of the can.

The state Health Department urges consumers who have recently purchased formula containing the lot number to discard or return the product to its place of purchase.  

Ten-day-old Avery Cornett of Lebanon, Mo., was given the formula several days before he died Sunday from an infection.

The powdered infant formula was purchased at the Walmart Supercenter in Lebanon. 

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that it had removed the powdered infant formula with the lot number from 3,000 stores.

The Associated Press reported that Walgreen Co., Kroger Co. and Safeway have also removed cans with the lot number from its shelves nationwide.

Most have issued statements that the move is a precautionary measure until health officials have completed tests on the formula.

Initial hospital tests indicate that Avery died of an infection caused by the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii.

The bacterium that caused the death is commonly found in nature. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, but it is considered extremely dangerous to premature babies and infants less than 1 year of age, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

State health officials will investigate the powdered formula, the water used and anything the child consumed prior to death. 

Mead Johnson Nutrition, the maker of Enfamil, issued a statement Thursday stating that Enfamil newborn powdered formula, “has not been recalled, but is being tested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with our assistance.”

Mead Johnson has also clarified that all Enfamil’s products are tested for Cronobacter before being shipped to stores and said the bacteria was not present in the batch of product used by the child’s family when it was produced or packaged.

The state Health Department said in a statement released this week that a second infant in Missouri fell ill with Cronobacter sakazakii within the past month after consuming a variety of powdered infant formulas, but the child has since recovered. It is unclear if the two cases are related.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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