Following the death earlier this month of Avery Cornett, a newborn baby from Lebanon, Missouri, Walmart has decided to remove Enfamil Newborn formula from its shelves, while awaiting tests on the powdered formula from health officials. Initial hospital tests have indicated that little Avery died from a rare bacterial infection know as Cronobacter sakazaki. The rod shaped Cronobacter bacteria has infected at least 120 infants worldwide since 1958 and has been linked to baby formula in the past, according to public health researchers.
The bacteria can grow rapidly if the powdered product it is found in is not reconstituted with water hot enough to kill it. Once it is inside a baby, the infection can cause swelling of the brain lining according to the CDC in Atlanta.
While the bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics, it is extremely dangerous to premature babies and those infants less than a month old, particularly if they have weak immune systems. In newborns, the blood brain barrier, as well as parts of the gastrointestinal tract, may not be fully developed, which, it is believed, may make them more susceptible than older children and adults.
An Illinois newborn has also fallen sick from the infection during a trip in Missouri and yesterday another infection was confirmed by the CDC in a hospitalized baby in Oklahoma.
Despite the precautions, and previous links to powdered formula, it is still unclear at this point what the exact source of the current bacterial outbreak is.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises boiling water for one minute and then letting it cool before mixing formula. Studies suggest powder needs to be mixed with water heated to at least 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius) to kill off bacteria according to the agencies website.