Newborn baby fed suspected contaminated drip at Whittington Hospital

08:56 05 June 2014

The infected baby at the Whittington Hospital has responded well to treatment

The infected baby at the Whittington Hospital has responded well to treatment

© Nigel Sutton

A baby born at the Whittington Hospital caught an infection linked to a suspected contaminated batch of feed which is thought to have caused the death of another newborn.

The infant is said to have responded to antibiotics at the hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway, and has now been transferred to another specialist unit to be treated for an “unrelated condition”, a spokesman said.

One baby died from the same form of blood poisoning, caused by the ‘bacillus cereus’ bacteria, on Sunday at St Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster, and 14 babies are also being treated for the infection at five other hospitals in the south of England.

The first cases were spotted on Friday at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and Public Health England (PHE) has “strongly linked” the infection to a batch of specialist baby feed manufactured by London based ITH Pharma Limited.

A PHE spokesman said investigations with the company have identified “an incident that might have caused the contamination”.

“Many of the babies were premature and very vulnerable and one baby has sadly died but the others are responding to antibiotic treatment,”she said.

She said PHE and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the issue and the product has been recalled.

PHE’s incident director, Professor Mike Catchpole, said: “Given that the bacteria is widely spread in the environment, we are continuing to investigate any other potential sources of infection. However, all our investigations to date indicate that the likely source of the infection has been identified.”

A Whittington Health spokesman said: “We identified a baby within our neonatal intensive care unit with a bacterial infection earlier this week.

“The baby responded well to treatment for the infection and has since been transferred to another specialist unit for an unrelated condition.

“Patient safety is a key priority and we are fully confident in the infection prevention and control measures in place within our neonatal intensive care unit.

“There has been no risk to other babies within this unit.”

In a statement, ITH Pharma managing director Karen Hamlin said: “ITH Pharma is very saddened to hear about the death of a baby in hospital, and that 14 others are ill with septicaemia.

“ITH Pharma is a specialist manufacturer of parenteral nutrition, which is given to babies in neo-natal intensive care units.

“The products in question, which are no longer in circulation, are made to order for individual patients on a daily basis, in response to bespoke orders from hospitals.

“We are co-operating fully with the MHRA in the investigation, and are doing everything we can to help them establish the facts in this case as quickly as possible.”


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