Prevention & Control

Cronobacter growing in a laboratory.

Getting sick with Cronobacter is rare, but infections in babies can be fatal.

When a source of a baby’s Cronobacter infection has been found, nearly all have been associated with consumption of reconstituted powdered infant formula. Powdered infant formula is not sterile. Manufacturers report that, using current methods, it is not possible to eliminate all germs from powdered infant formula in the factory. In some investigations, Cronobacter was found in powdered infant formula that had been contaminated in the factory 1,2. In other investigations, Cronobacter was found in opened containers of powdered infant formula that might have been contaminated at home or elsewhere 1,3.

Babies less than 3 months, infants born prematurely, and infants with weakened immune systems are at the highest risk. Parents or caregivers of these babies may want to take extra precautions to protect against Cronobacter infection by following the recommendations below.

  1. FAO and WHO. Enterobacter sakazakii (Cronobacter spp.) in powdered formulae: Meeting report. pdf icon[PDF – 121 pages]external icon Microbiological Risk Assessment Series 15. 2008. ISBN 978-92-5-106119-0.
  2. Himmelright I, Harris E, Lorch V, Anderson M. Enterobacter sakazakii infections associated with the use of powdered infant formula—Tennessee.external icon JAMA. 2001;287:2204-5.
  3. Baumbach J, Rooney K, Smelser C, Torres P, Bowen A, Nichols M. Cronobacter species isolation in two infants—New Mexico, 2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2009;58(42):1179-83.