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Infant formula suspected in, not linked to, newborn's death

December 22, 2011 |  2:19 pm

Avery CornettFatal bacterial infections rarely result from consumption of baby formula -- and no formula recall has been issued -- but Wal-Mart is taking no chances. The company has pulled a batch of Enfamil Newborn formula from its stores after a Missouri baby consumed it and later died of a rare bacterial infection.

Cronobacter sakazakii, the type of bacteria believed to have killed the newborn, "is likely to be present in a variety of dry [infant formula] ingredients unless appropriate control measures are implemented by suppliers," according to a 2008 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization report.

The batch of formula in question -- Enfamil Newborn, made by Mead Johnson and sold in 12.5-ounce cans (lot number ZP1K7G) -- may not prove to be the source of the bacteria.

It tested negative during packaging and production, a Mead Johnson spokesman told  Bloomberg Businessweek. And the U.N. report noted that only 120 cases of Cronobacter infections among infants and small children have been identified worldwide.

Federal health officials are testing samples of the formula as well as the water the newborn's parents used to prepare it. Laclede County health director Charla Baker told AP on Thursday that it could be several days before results of those tests are available.

Chris Perille of Mead Johnson Nutrition noted in a statement that the microorganism is found “throughout the environment.”  

The baby, Avery Cornett, of Lebanon, Mo., was taken to a physician on Dec. 15, a month after his birth, after showing signs of stomach pains and becoming lethargic, according to the Associated Press. He was later taken to a hospital; he died Sunday. 

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-- Matt Pearce in Kansas City, Mo.
twitter.com/mattdpearce

Photo: Avery Cornett. Credit: AP Photo/Holman Howe Funeral Home

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