A new survey of baby foods has found they contain worrying levels of disease-causing microbes. Of most concern was the presence of a bacterium called Enterobacter sakazakii, which has been linked to a handful of fatal outbreaks of meningitis at children's hospitals in the US and Europe.
The meningitis-causing bug has been found in powdered infant formula before, but this study is the first to detect it in dried infant food. Although there are only a few cases each year, the death rate from infection can be as high as one-third.
Premature babies and those with a weakened immune system are at particular risk. Even the babies who survive an infection often suffer brain damage, says Carol Iversen, who studies the bacterium at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. "Very few recover fully," she says, reports newscientist.com
According to webindia123.com this research is the first to detect the bug in dried infant food, although to date there have been no actual cases of infection linked to these products.
Dr Stephen Forsythe, who led the research, said this means that any formula left out overnight could go from containing very few bacteria to harbouring dangerous levels.
Therefore if parents prepare the formula in advance they should then keep it in the fridge.
"People assume these are sterile products, but they are not, and must be prepared hygienically, following the manufacturer's instructions.
"As long as they are then they should be safe, but the risk increases if you add water and then leave them at room temperature."