Friday, January 20th, 2012
As many as 15 percent of parents who struggle to make ends meet add water to their babies’ formula, using “formula stretching” to get more out of their infant food purchases, a new study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics has found.
The study followed Cincinnati families who qualify for federal food assistance and free formula through a program called WIC. MSNBC.com reports that the assistance isn’t enough for many families:
Even though the majority of parents were receiving help through foods stamps and WIC, many did not have enough food to feed their families. In fact, some 65 percent of families ran out of WIC-supplied infant formula most months. And the result, in many cases, was that parents diluted or cut back on formula for their infants.
This kind of formula stretching may have consequences for the infants, Beck said.
“There will be a subset of children who will have what is called ‘failure to thrive,’” Beck explained. “More often, though, the ramifications of this tend to be less visible — problems with cognition and behavior. In some it may lead to obesity later in life.”
While some might point to breast feeding as a solution, not every mom is in the position to do this for her child. In some jobs it’s virtually impossible to express milk during the day when a mom is away from her baby.
“Clearly, we encourage and actively support breastfeeding,” Beck said. “The reality is that a relatively low percentage of our patients breastfeed by the time they reach us. If they do, we continue to encourage it and have a breastfeeding clinic if they need it. Although they likely wouldn’t require formula, we need to do education and a nutritional assessment for mom. Also, as the first year progresses, even fewer families continue to nurse.”
Image: Baby bottle, via Shutterstock
Thursday, December 29th, 2011
Despite laboratory research by the company that makes Enfamil powdered infant formula that showed the powder to be free of the harmful environmental bacteria Cronobacter, more cases of ill babies have parents remaining confused over the product’s safety. Last week, Wal-Mart recalled the formula until the investigation is clearly resolved. The Washington Post reports on the additional illnesses:
An Oklahoma baby is the third infant this month sickened by a rare type of bacteria sometimes associated with tainted powdered infant formula.
The child, from Tulsa County, was infected with Cronobacter sakazakii but fully recovered, health officials said Wednesday. An Illinois child also rebounded after being sickened by the bacteria. A Missouri infant who was 10 days old died.
The Missouri child, Avery Cornett of Lebanon, had consumed Enfamil Newborn powdered infant formula made by Illinois-based Mead Johnson. Powdered formula has been suspected in illnesses caused by the bacteria in years past.
But health officials say the Oklahoma child had not consumed Enfamil. And Mead Johnson this week reported that its own testing found no bacteria in the product.
U.S. officials are awaiting results from their own testing of powdered formula and distilled water — also known as ‘nursery water’ — used to prepare it.
The cases occurred in roughly the same region of the country. At this point, it’s not clear that they are connected, said Barbara Reynolds, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman.
Symptoms can include irritability, lethargy, fever, vomiting and seizures. The infection can be treated with antibiotics, but it’s still deemed extremely dangerous to babies less than 1 month old and those born premature. An estimated 40 percent of illnesses from the bacteria end in death.
Wednesday, December 28th, 2011
A week after Wal-Mart stores pulled cans of Enfamil powdered formula in the wake of a newborn’s death, the company that manufactures the formula said it had conducted extensive lab tests, finding the product to be safe.
The company, Mead Johnson, tested for an environmental bacterium called Cronobacter, which can be fatal, and found no traces of it in the samples they tested.
Federal regulators are continuing their investigation of the product, The New York Times reports:
Chris Perille, a spokesman for Mead Johnson, said the company had tested the same batch of formula as public health authorities. The negative test for Cronobacter confirmed results the company got before it shipped the batch of Enfamil Premium Newborn powdered formula.
“We hold samples of every batch,” he said on Sunday in a telephone interview. “There’s only one batch of one product that’s being checked out.”
Mr. Perille said that Mead Johnson had not been given a time frame for when the F.D.A. and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would finish their reviews, which probably include water samples and other environmental tests.
No other “serious” complaints have been reported related to the batch of Enfamil Premium Newborn that was being tested, he said.
Image: Powdered infant formula, via Shutterstock.
Thursday, December 22nd, 2011
More than 3,000 Wal-Mart stores nationwide have pulled from their shelves powdered infant formula after a Missouri baby died of a rare bacterial infection after being fed the formula, The Associated Press reports. The decision was made “out of an abundance of caution,” the chain announced, as the investigation into the cause of death for the 10-day-old infant continues.
Wal-Mart is pulling 12.5-ounce cans of Enfamil Newborn powder with the lot number ZP1K7G, though the government has not ordered a recall of the formula. Manufacturer Mead Johnson Nutrition told the AP that its records showed the lot tested negative for the bacterium before it was shipped.
Customers who bought cans of the formula can return them to Wal-Mart for a refund or exchange, the company said, adding that the product could go back on shelves depending on the outcome of the investigation.