This week I got an email from a local hospital asking about the recent refresher the CDC sent out on the sterility of powdered formulas. They are currently sending home powdered formula, and wondering if they should consider passing out instructions to the new families. Of course I think that instructions should be sent out at discharge, because a lot of us come into parenthood not knowing quite what to do!
The CDC sent this out to remind consumers that powdered infant formula is not a sterile environment, it can and does at times grow certain bacteria. The bacteria they discussed in this reminder was Cronobacter, or Enterobacter sakazakii. This is a germ found naturally in our environment, and it survives in extremely dry conditions. It can also be found in other various dry foods, such as powdered milk, herbal teas, and other starches.
While it is uncommon that adult’s and older children get sick from it, it can be deadly to infants and those with compromised immune systems. What Cronobacter does is cause a severe blood infection or meningitis. While this is a rare but serious illness, infants two months or younger, premature infants, or those with compromised immune systems are those that are most likely to develop meningitis with the infection.
The CDC states that it generally begins with a fever, and can include poor feeding, crying, and very low energy. These infants should be taken to a doctor for evaluation. Here are some ways the CDC states you can protect your infant:
Breastfeed. Breastfeeding helps prevent many kinds of sicknesses among infants. Almost no cases of Cronobacter sickness have been reported among infants who were being exclusively breastfed.
If your baby gets formula, choose infant formula sold in liquid form, especially when your baby is a newborn or very young. Liquid formulations are made to be sterile and therefore should not contain Cronobacter germs.
If you use powdered infant formula, follow these steps:
1. Clean up before preparation
2. Prepare safely
3. Use up quickly or store safely
You can find more information here.
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