Suspected contaminated baby feed is recalled from Homerton Hospital

Homerton University Hospital, of Homerton Row.

Homerton University Hospital, of Homerton Row. - Credit: Archant

Several batches of baby feed thought to be linked to the death of a newborn have been recalled from Homerton Hospital.

Three babies have been fed with the suspected contaminated intravenous fluid at the hospital in Homerton Row, but none have shown signs of developing the bacillus cereus infection which has caused blood poisoning in 17 babies in the south of England and the death of an infant at St Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster on Sunday.

Public Health England (PHE) has recalled all of the medicine manufactured by ITH PHarma – including five units from the Homerton – after “strongly” linking it to the infection, the first cases of which were spotted on Friday at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

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.”

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A Homerton Hospital spokesman said: “We can confirm that we did receive some of the contaminated parenteral nutrition. The units were administered to three babies over several days.

“The babies have been monitored closely and have shown no sign of the bacillus cereus bacterial infection and all the babies are stable.

“The parents of the babies have been fully informed and we continue to monitor the situation closely.”

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 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.”