Powdered Milk Health Alert

The 58th World Health Assembly (photo copyright: WHO/P. Virot)
Copyright: WHO/P. Virot
The current annual assembly of the World Health Organisation is expected to agree a resolution soon (May 2005) highlighting the risk of improperly prepared powdered baby milk, possibly including "an explicit warning on packaging". Concerns have heightened recently following a handful of infant deaths and severe illness caused by a pathogen, the term for an agent that causes disease, present in powdered infant formula.

Unlike liquid formulas, powdered milk is not sterile and the pathogen in question, Enterobacter sakazakii, is present in minute quantities. It is not a threat, however, if the milk is prepared properly.

To kill harmful micro-organisms and avoid risk it is important to use just-boiled water and to feed as soon as the milk has cooled to the right temperature.

The pathogen is not a threat if the milk is prepared properly.
It is also important to stress that recorded cases of disease are extremely rare and mostly limited to premature babies, those with low birth weights or those with weak immune systems. This resolution is not intended to cause alarm, rather to remind parents and medical staff of the importance of preparing infant formula in the right way.

DadCafe is a strong advocate of breast-feeding but where this is not possible, please ensure you and those responsible for your baby prepare powdered milk properly as described above.

Related WHO resources: