One baby dead and 14 critically ill after drip contamination

Jun 5, 2014

Newborn babies poisoned by contaminated batch of nutrition drips in six different NHS hospitals

Luis Davilla/Cover/Getty Images

A newborn baby has died and 14 others are battling septicaemia after being poisoned by a contaminated batch of nutrition drips in six different NHS hospitals.

Health chiefs last night issued a public health alert, warning that the infected product may have been used in 22 hospitals across the country.

The newborn died of blood poisoning, caused by a common bacterium known as Bacillus cereus, on Sunday at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London. The other 14 babies affected are said to be responding to antibiotics in hospitals in London, Brighton, Cambridge and Luton. All of the newborns, most of whom were premature, were being fed through a tube into their bloodstream.

The contamination is believed to have been accidental, with medical regulators investigating an incident last Thursday at a London manufacturing plant owned by ITH Pharma Ltd.

Public Health England (PHE) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have launched an investigation.

All of the feeds in danger of contamination have been recalled and regulators emphasised that it was unlikely that any were still in use as the batch has passed its use-by date.

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at University of Bristol, told the Daily Telegraph the scenario was "everyone's worst nightmare".

ITH Pharma said it was "very saddened" to hear the news. "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," it said.

A spokesman for Guy's and St Thomas's Trust said that all babies on the unit are being screened for the bacterium as a precaution and that enhanced infection control measures had been put in place. "These enhanced measures will remain in place until the trust is satisfied that no other babies are at risk," he said.

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