Parents of sick baby fear formula may be cause

December 27, 2011 4:55:35 AM PST
Parents of a 1-month-old who spent her first Christmas in the hospital fighting a bacterial infection fear an infant formula may be behind the illness.

Kristi Pittman and Kenny Rapacz have spent the holiday praying in agony at Hope Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn. Their baby girl, Porsche Rapacz, has been treated for several days in isolation and is on the strongest antibiotic available.

"Anyone who comes in to full isolation, they have to get a gown, mask, gloves. She has an IV in her head so that's hard to see," said Pittman.

The parents believe the product they feed Porsche -- Enfamil premium Newborn powdered formula -- may be to blame. They are waiting for test results.

"She only gets a supplement at night. She's breastfed during the day. I noticed a few days prior she had a fever and threw up one time," said Pittman.

A baby in Missouri died a week ago after consuming the same formula. Test results showed that baby had a rare bacteria.

"The good thing is we caught it early, we caught it before it got in her blood," said Pittman.

But the makers of Enfamil, Glenview-based Meade-Johnson, said in a statement Sunday, "Mead Johnson Nutrition has conducted a new round of rigorous testing on samples of a batch of Enfamil PREMIUM® Newborn powdered formula related to a U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) investigation. Drawn from samples parallel to those being tested by public health officials and following the same methodology, the new testing did not detect any presence of (the bacteria)."

The Centers for Disease Control is also investigating.

Several stores, including Walgreens and Wal-Mart, have pulled a suspected batch of the baby formula - lot number ZP1K7G. That same lot number was given to Porsche.

"I just want to see her get better. Hopefully this wasn't from the formula. We are waiting for the tests and we will deal with that later. The main concern is for my daughter, to get her home where she belongs," said Rapacz.

Doctors say no matter what kind of formula parents feed their babies, they need to make sure they are only serving it fresh with sterilized equipment.

"They should only prepare enough to give the baby one feeding. That feeding should be given within two hours of preparation, any longer and bacteria can grow into the formula," said Dr. Stephen Sokalski, DO, Infectious Disease, Christ &Hope Children's.

Porsche is expected to be in the hospital for another five days. Her parents say they tried to take back some of the formula they bought in Kankakee but the store wouldn't accept the return.

Meade-Johnson also says it's constantly testing formulas to make sure they are safe. But so far there is no official recall.

Despite suspicions from a different set of parents, hospital officials say test results show that another baby in Gurnee did not get sick from the formula.