infant formula & meningitis


Posted by Maureen MINCHIN on 24 October 2011

I've been trying to get data on infant deaths due to contaminated infant formula and while these are documented in Israel, France and the US, there seem to be no reported cases in other countries where the same brands of (inevitably unsterile) powder are sold, although rates of contamination with infective agents are high in any study done. What protocol exists to eliminate formula as the source in all cases of meningitis or sepsis in infancy? Is it always sampled and cultured and typed? This is something that if you don't look, you won't find.


Posted on 14 July 2015

Comment by kristin davis

my grandson has spinal meningitis now he is 2 months

Posted on 02 November 2011

Comment by Shirley Gieron

Infant formula is not a sterile product and there has been international concern about the risk to infants from Salmonella and Chronobacter sakazakii contamination which rarely cause meningitis and septicaemia in infants. The issue has been considered in recent years by various world health and food safety authorities and has resulted in recommendations and guidance around the preparation and storage of infant formula.

In the UK, all cases of meningitis and septicaemia must be notified to the local health protection unit and whilst in hospital samples of blood or cerebral spinal fluid would be taken from the patient in an attempt to find the causative pathogen. If either of the above named pathogens were found to be responsible for the illness then the local health protection unit would carry out an investigation into the likely source (by conducting interviews with the families of the individuals concerned and perhaps taking food samples for laboratory investigation). If a sample of infant formulae was discovered to be contaminated with the causative pathogen, then the food standards agency would continue the investigation with the manufacturers of the food concerned. In some cases the manufacturing plant may be located in a separate country and if this was the case then the relevant food standards agency in that particular country would also be involved in the investigation.

The Health Protection Agency monitor the incidence of meningitis due to all causes at a national level. If there is an unexpected rise in the incidence of disease caused by a particular pathogen, an investigation into the cause of this would also be initiated. Due to the low numbers of cases of meningitis in infancy caused by Chronobacter sakazaki and Salmonelli in England and Wales, the HPA do not report these cases separately, but instead report numbers of more common types of meningitis (meningococcal, pneumococcal, haemophilus influenza, tuberculosis). Other cases of meningitis are reported as other specified or unspecified (if no causative pathogen was found). MRF

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