Batches of Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powdered baby formula were found to be contaminated with a variety of bacteria. The infected batches originated out of a Sturgis, Michigan manufacturing facility for Abbott Nutrition and may have caused at least one infant death. Reports of bacterial infections in infants that consumed the formula were received in Texas, Ohio, and Minnesota.
“Parents and caregivers of infants who have used these products, and are concerned about the health of their child, should contact their child’s health care provider,” said the FDA in a press release. The formula in question comes from containers with 22 through 37 as the first two digits of their product code with other characters in the code containing K8, SH, or Z2. All products have an expiration date of April 1, 2022, or later.
The bacterial infections come at a time when reports of necrotizing enterocolitis are coming to light among premature newborns being fed formula. Statistically, 10% of infants in a neonatal ICU weighing under three pounds and five ounces will develop the condition and while the exact cause is not precisely known, an increasing number of medical professionals are wondering if baby formula formulations have something to do with it.
Necrotizing enterocolitis develops when the cells of an infant’s intestinal tract get infected, become inflamed, and die. The condition is life-threatening and can be identified by a swollen or bloated abdomen, bloody stool, difficulty breathing, a low heart rate, and sluggishness.
According to CNN, stores of baby formula are approaching record lows in the United States. Industry group INCA, or the Infant Nutrition Council of America, has warned that inventory is down 17% from where it was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.