Third infant reportedly sickened by rare bacteria
Investigators probing a rare infection for a possible link to powdered infant formula have come up empty.
December 28th, 2011
07:27 PM ET

Third infant reportedly sickened by rare bacteria

An Oklahoma infant is the third to be sickened by a rare bacteria that can come from baby formula, according to news reports Wednesday.

The baby is from Tulsa County and has fully recovered from Cronobacter sakazakii, CNN affiliate KYTV reported.

The child was fed a different brand of baby formula than Enfamil, the kind that has been linked in news reports to the death of 10-day-old Avery Cornett in Missouri, according to KYTV.

A newborn in Illinois was also sickened from the rare infection but is recovering, according to the state health officials.

A spokesman for Mead Johnson Nutrition, the company that makes Enfamil, told CNN Wednesday that FDA inspectors were investigating the company’s Michigan factory in the wake of the infections, but he characterized the probe as routine.

“In addition to their routine reviews, FDA inspectors do site visits as part of their follow-up on serious complaints for any food product - for example to collect samples and check batch records.  This is standard operating procedure for them, and we would expect that they have also had inspectors visit production facilities for various other products/items they are testing as part of this investigation,” Chris Perille said in an e-mail statement.

Health officials have been investigating the infections for a possible link to powdered infant formula, but state, federal and company tests have found no Cronobacter. The babies' surroundings - where they live, what they ate - are also being scrutinized.

“Because cronobacter (enterobacter sakazakii) is so commonly present throughout the environment, we expect they (FDA inspectors) are looking at a large number of other possible sources - water, clothing, bedding, preparation and use surfaces, etc. - so they have a lot of testing to complete and, of course, they want to be both thorough and accurate,” Perille said.

The Missouri case prompted retail giant Wal-Mart to pull all cans of the same size and lot number of baby formula from its shelves.

Wal-Mart pulls baby formula in wake of death

On Wednesday, Bloomberg quoted Kieran Jordan, a microbiologist at the Moorepark Food Research Centre of Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Development Authority, as saying that the perils of Cronobacter infections via baby formula have come to light only since the 1980s.

“Once the baby powder is rehydrated, it is a very rich environment for the bacteria to grow,” Jordan told

Cronobacter can cause life-threatening infections in newborns and is fatal in nearly 40% of cases, according to the CDC. Infection survivors can be left with severe neurological problems.

Read more about this story from CNN affiliate KYTV.

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Filed under: Consumer safety • U.S.
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Pete

    Gee, maybe that idiot NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne will take a look at this. If that kid were breast fed he's still be with his parents. As a father myself, I shudder. Our prayers are with you.

    December 29, 2011 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Momofone

      Not everyone can breast feed. I couldn't due to medical reasons. Don't judge others when you have no idea what their story is.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. oobie

    You want no regulation? Try baby formula 'Made in China'.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. Holly

    This is why you should just breast feed your baby if you can.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:58 am | Report abuse |
    • J

      And if you can't?? Unfortunate accident here, I have a 16 month old and I couldn't imagine what these parents are going through...

      December 29, 2011 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Really Jersey

      Can't or won't J? 70% of women breastfeed in the hospital & more of them could nurse but don't, because of medicines after C-Sections. That means most breasts are functional. Even a C-Section should not mean you cannot breastfeed. The milk can be "pumped & dumped" until any pain & antibiotic medicines are out of the system & donor milk used. Mothers of preemies pump for months. Even low production of milk is no excuse. Even some breast milk & supplementing with formula is better than having no breast milk at all, to provide protection against SIDS & a deadly infections. Formula fed only babies have the highest death rate & fully breast fed babies the lowest. There is a good reason mother's milk has antibodies in prevent the deaths of babies. A consult with a lactation expert should be standard after childbirth. This is a part of why lower income mothers have a higher infant death rate, they bottle feed more often. They also have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, & stroke/heart attacks. Breast milk reduces all of those. Our babies deserve better care.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • C

      I'm sick of people judging moms who medically cannot breastfeed their babies. I am one of them. I had severe post partum depression for which I was hospitalized. I had to be put on medication immediately or I would have ended up dead due to suicide.
      Which is better? Breastfeeding for a couple of days and then not having a mother at all? Or using formula and allowing the mother to heal so that she can live out her life to take care of her child?
      Don't judge others until you've walked a mile in their shoes!

      December 29, 2011 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • JustRae

      While my personal choice was to breast-feed, and I stand behind that choice 100%, some of the best parents I can think of formula fed. I agree with J, this is unfortunate, tragic, and my hearts go out to the parents who lost their infant – a parent's worst nightmare.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. sick n tired

    The FDA is a joke. It is just another corrupt branch of our corrupt government. There are so many things that aren't done that should be because of the rampant bribery (lobbyists). Take the beef industry for example. We had the Mad Cow scare years ago because of the feed practices (feeding cows,.....cow because you can't take a loss on the downer cows so grind them up and feed them to the rest). Geuss what, its still being done, the FDA's "answer", be careful not to cut too close to the bone...seriously? People have no idea how many of their loved ones living with "Alzheimers" actually have Mad Cow Disease. The beef industry has a lot of pull in DC and it's because of all the legalized bribary. We expect the FDA to look out for the consumer, but just like every other branch of the government, they fail us miserably..... Having worked in the food industry i've seen what the FDA "inspectors" do and it's not much. If people knew what they were eating in all the processed foods today they would likely reconsider their diets. I'm not just talking about all the cancer causing chemicals prolific in our food, I'm talking about animal waste, insects, all kinds of filth. I've even seen "people" spit in food on assembly lines, throe tiny rocks in food, crazy stuff! I don't eat any kinds of potato salad, mac salad, or anything like that as a result of my experiences. Make and groe your own food. Trusting the government to do anything right is always a recipie for disaster.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
    • patrick

      Strange. You rant against government regulation then complain about why they weren't enforced. Sounds like proper funding of the agency would make you happy.

      December 29, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  5. NoMorespecialinterestBS

    Anyone who wants to do away with regulation needs to eat a bullet. Maybe this way we can cut down on repopulating this planet with people who aren't capable of critical thinking ie (Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum) and anyone like them.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:56 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mi Poo

    The headline declares that a "rare" bacteria was the cause of these illnesses, but the body of the story states that it is so common in the environment that other sources (beyond the formula) are being looked at. So which is it? Rare or common? Maybe screaming "RARE" made it more dramatic for the headlines. o_0

    December 29, 2011 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Really Jersey

      A bacteria that is common in the environment can cause disease rarely. For example mycobacterium avium is widespread, but only affects people with a white cell count less than 12, like extremely elderly,chemotherapy, radiation, or AIDS patients. I know, I got it during chemo when I dropped to 4. Very young infants have lower immune systems too & their mother's milk compensates by being rich in immune factors that formula does not have. A breast fed baby has a better chance of fighting it off.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • JustRae

      Really Jersey, I believe this is where the "it gives the baby more of an immune system" argument comes into play. So often, that gets miscontstrued, and you hear parents spouting on about how they may have breast-fed one, and bottle fed the other and the breast-fed child gets colds more often. Or, a mother who formula feeds/fed her child notices a child who may have been breast feed/fed comes down with more colds. But, it really is about the growth of good bacteria in the gutt that comes from breast milk, which fights off intestinal infections caused by bacterias, such as the one mentioned in this article..

      December 29, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. catduq

    Surprise surprise. A third baby and this one also was... that's right. Formula fed. Not only is powdered formula not considered a sterile food before being sterilized in the prep process. (Which nobody does right! Go to W.H.O. website to get instructions!) But also these babies didnt have the extra immune protection since they weren't BF even if they got the bacteria from somewhere else. Makes me so sad.

    December 29, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  8. TriXen

    Oh no!!! I have an idea... Let's all panic and run around like crazies, screaming and freaking out.

    December 29, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ed

    Don't you mean "a rare bacterium"? "Bacteria" is plural. I'll blame the public schools!

    December 29, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • patrick

      Either way would be correct here.

      December 29, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
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