HEALTHWATCH: How To Protect From Cronobacter Bacteria

Wilbarger General Hospital health experts break down Cronobacter bacteria and everything you should know to protect your baby:

Cronobacter has been in the news as being found in powdered infant formula that had been contaminated at the factory. In other cases, Cronobacter bacteria might have contaminated the powdered infant formula after it was opened at home or elsewhere during preparation. Here are some basic facts about Cronobacter:

  • In infants, the illness generally starts with fever and includes poor feeding, crying, or listlessness.
  • It can also cause diarrhea, wound infections, and urinary tract infections in people of all ages
  • Powdered infant formula is not sterile. It is impossible to eliminate all germs from powdered infant formula from the factory. Very young infants, infants born prematurely, and infants with weakened immune systems are at highest risk.

To best protect your infant, you can:

  • Breastfeed- breastfeeding helps prevent many kinds of infections among infants
  • If you choose formula, choose formula in the liquid form, especially when your baby is a newborn or very young. Liquid formulations are made to be sterile and should not transmit Cronobacter infection
  • If you choose powdered infant formula:
    • Wash your hands carefully with soap and water  prior to preparation
    • Clean work surfaces, such as countertops and sinks
    • Mix the formula with water hot enough to kill germs, about 158 degrees and above
    • Keep powdered formula lids and scoops clean
    • Close containers of infant formula or bottled water as soon as possible
    • Use formula within 2 hours of preparation
    • Discard unused formula

Cronobacter illness is very rare, with only 4-6 cases in infants reported every year to the CDC.