July 2, 2022

Cronobacter Complications: Necrotizing Enterocolitis, Sepsis, and Meningitis

Cronobacter complications can include necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), sepsis, and meningitis. These conditions can be fatal for infants, and a worry for parents in light of the Cronobacter illnesses linked to powdered infant formula. What are the symptoms of these conditions and what should parents look for?

Cronobacter Complications: Necrotizing Enterocolitis, Sepsis, and Meningitis

Four Infants Sick with Cronobacter

First, some background. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that there are four infants from Minnesota, Texas, and Ohio who were sickened with Cronobacter infections after they were allegedly fed powdered infant formula produced by Abbott Nutrition at their Sturgis, Michigan plant. More reports of illness are being investigated.

A recall has been issued for four types of that formula: Similac Pro Total Comfort, Similac Advance, and Similac Sensitive with these codes: first two digits 22 though 37, and the digit letter combinations K8, SH, or Z2, and the use by date 4-1-2022 or later. One lot of Similac PM 60/40 Infant Formula with the individual can lot number 27032K80 was added to this recall.

Two infants who lived in Ohio have died. The FDA is investigating to see if Cronobacter contributed to those deaths.

Early Cronobacter Symptoms

The early symptoms of a Cronobacter infection include excessive crying, poor feeding, a fever, or very low energy. Some infants could also have seizures. The CDC says that infants with these symptoms should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.

Cronobacter Complications: Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Up to 90% of infants who develop NEC are premature. This serious complication can cause intestinal tissue death and can create a hole in the intestine. Bacteria can get through this hole into the abdominal, triggering a serious infection. Some infants who develop this complication may need surgery to repair the intestine.

Symptoms of NEC can develop over a few days or may appear suddenly. Typical symptoms include abdominal pain and swelling, diarrhea with bloody stool, green or yellow vomit, lethargy, abdominal pain, a swollen, red, bluish, or tender belly, difficulty feeding, constipation, low heart rate, and a low or unstable temperature.

Cronobacter Complications: Meningitis

Meningitis is swelling of the mining’s, which is the covering of the brain and spinal cord. This dangerous infection is a particular risk to infants under the age of two months because their immature immune systems may not be able to handle this condition.

Symptoms of meningitis in infants include a bulging or tense soft spot, high temperature (babies under three months may not have an increased temperature), difficulty breathing or breathing fast, grunting sounds, vomiting, refusing to eat, sleepiness, shivering, crying when picked up, blotchy skin, a pinprick rash, a stiff body, jerky movements, floppy body, pain, and cold hands and feed.

Cronobacter Complications: Sepsis

Sepsis is a blood infection that is a severe inflammatory response to bacteria or viruses. This complication is particularly dangerous for babies because symptoms can be difficult to detect and because these symptoms are similar to many other illnesses.

Typical symptoms of sepsis include a fever or low temperature, lethargy, nausea and vomiting, a fast heart rate, rapid breathing, cold hands and feet, clammy and pale skin, and shortness of breath.

What Parents Can Do

Experts say that breast-feeding is best. But some mothers cannot breast feed.

In that case, if possible, premixed liquid infant formula may be your best option. This product is sterile, unlike powdered formula, which manufacturers claim cannot be made sterile. Liquid formula is ready to use. Liquid formula is most likely best when your baby is less than three months old, was a preemie, or has a weakened immune system.

If you do feed your baby powdered formula, know the symptoms of Cronobacter complications and take your baby to the doctor as soon as possible

When preparing powdered formula, make sure that it is prepared correctly. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and clean the area where you will be working.

Use clean water and boil it for one minute. Let the water cool (to 158°F to kill Cronobacter bacteria if your doctor recommends this, or to room temperature), and mix it with the formula. If the formula was mixed with hot water, run it under cool water to make sure it isn’t too hot before feeding.

The CDC states, “Use prepared infant formula within 1 hour from start of feeding and within 2 hours of preparing it. If your baby does not finish the entire bottle of formula, throw away leftover formula.”

The CDC also says, “If you do not plan to use the prepared formula right away, refrigerate it immediately. Use refrigerated formula within 24 hours. If you can’t remember how long you have kept formula in the refrigerator, it is safer to throw it out than to feed it to your baby.”

If your baby is ill, take him or her to the pediatrician immediately. Trust your instincts.

Food Poisoning Lawyers

If your infant has been sickened with a Cronobacter or Salmonella infection after consuming recalled infant formula, please contact our experienced attorneys for help at 1-888-377-8900 or text us at 612-261-0856. Our firm represents clients in lawsuits against grocery stores and food processors, and families in wrongful death cases.

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