Breast milk, the most nutritious and purest form of energy source, plays a vital role in building the child’s immune system and bonding with the mother while preventing several other infections. This essential and uncontaminated form has turned fatal and killed an infant, resulting in infection from a breast pump. A breast pump is used to pump milk from the mother for nursing later. A rare infection due to contamination in the breast pump led to the tragic end. Here are points for understanding the risks of using a contaminated breast pump for infants for those who handle infants and feed them using a breast pump should note and beware of. 

What caused the death?

Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria led to the fatal infection in the baby linked to contaminated breast pump use and eventual death. It is a rare bacterial infection caused by a contaminated breast pump. The child was fed a combination of breast milk and a human milk fortifier. The samples of milk tested negative for any contamination, but the source of infection was apparently the moisture that remained in the pump after washing and sanitizing. The bacteria must have made its way while assembling the pump, after cleansing it in the sink in the household. The breast pump used in the hospital also has no signs of infection, making the origin quite clear. 

The bacteria and infection

Cronobacter is present in a number of environments, including sediment, water, and food. These bacteria are opportunistic pathogens that can infect people and spread disease, especially in young children and those with compromised immune systems. 

Infant infections with Cronobacter can result in life-threatening illnesses like meningitis, sepsis, and necrotizing enterocolitis. Along with other foods like cheese, vegetables, and meat, the bacteria can also spread through tainted powdered baby formula.

Cronobacter infections can be avoided by maintaining good hygiene, which includes washing your hands correctly and cleaning and sterilising any machinery used to prepare baby formula. Liquid formula, which is less likely to be contaminated with Cronobacter germs than powdered formula, may be given to infants who are more at risk for infection.

Best Practices for Breast Pump Hygiene:

  1. Provide a list of best practices to maintain a clean and safe breast pump:
  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling the breast pump or its components.
  • Disassemble the pump and wash all parts that come into contact with breast milk after each use.
  • Use warm soapy water and a brush specifically designed for cleaning breast pump parts.
  • Rinse all parts thoroughly to remove any soap residue.
  • Dry the parts completely before reassembling or storing them.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding sterilization methods and frequency.
  • Avoid using shared or second-hand breast pump equipment unless it has been properly sanitized.
  • Regularly inspect the pump for wear and tear, and replace any worn-out or damaged parts promptly.
  • Be aware of any recalls or safety alerts related to the specific breast pump model being used.

Conclusion: The tragic incident involving the death of a baby due to a rare infection linked to a contaminated breast pump serves as a somber reminder of the importance of proper hygiene and maintenance when using these devices. Breastfeeding mothers should adhere to recommended guidelines for cleaning and sterilizing breast pump equipment to ensure the safety and well-being of their infants.