Two infants have died and at least five have gotten sick between Sept. 17, 2021 and Jan. 4, 2022, with bacterial infections that may have been caused by contamination of baby formula made by Abbott Laboratories.
The babies were infected with Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella Newport in Minnesota, Ohio and Texas. The illnesses and one death were first reported on Feb. 17, 2022, when Abbott issued a voluntary recall of the powdered formulas Similac, Alimentum and EleCare. After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a second death on Feb. 28, Similac PM 60/40 was added to the recall list. The recall includes products and lot numbers with an expiration date after April 1, 2022. To check if your formula is part of the recall, you can type the lot code, found on the bottom of the package, here.
Symptoms of Cronobacter or salmonella infection include:
- Temperature changes
- Grunting breaths
- Poor feeding
- Blood in urine or stool
- Abnormal movements
If you notice any of these symptoms in your infant, call the doctor immediately.
After the initial recall in September 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan, manufacturing facility, which distributes formula internationally. The agency found the bacteria Cronobacter in environmental samples. The company itself has not uncovered any of the bacteria in samples from products that have already been distributed.
The FDA did mention in its announcement that Abbott had records of having previously destroyed products, due to Cronobacter contamination.
In some regions, supply chain issues have led to a shortage of baby formula, leaving parents worried they may not be able to find replacements for their infants.
The FDA offered the following advice for parents.
- Dilute formula to make it last longer
- Make homemade formula
- Buy imported formula online, which may be counterfeit
- Look for other brands such as Enfamil
- Contact your child’s healthcare provider for recommendations
- Bring your formula to the store for an exchange or refund if you purchased it through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). You can also call 1-800-986-8540 to learn about replacement options.
- Report any adverse effects to the FDA’s MedWatch Program online or by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.