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Food supplement linked to illness that killed baby

By Ella Pickover

Public Health England (PHE) said on Wednesday that a batch of a food supplement was "strongly linked" to the death of one baby and illness in 14 others.

PHE officials have now identified three further cases of septicaemia in babies being treated in neonatal units in hospitals in England – bringing the total number of cases to 18.

The babies, who became unwell last week, are responding to antibiotic treatment, a PHE spokeswoman said.

One case was confirmed at Peterborough City Hospital in Cambridgeshire and two probable cases have been identified at Southend University Hospital and Basildon University Hospital, both in Essex, she said.

The suspected contamination has been traced to a 'sourced single raw material ingredient', the manufacturer said.

PHE has 'strongly linked' the cases with a batch of intravenous liquid called parenteral nutrition made by ITH Pharma.

Speaking outside its north west London base, ITH Pharma managing director Karen Hamling said: "As a mother, as a pharmacist, as someone who has worked for 30 years in healthcare, inside and outside the NHS, I am deeply saddened that one baby has died and 14 others have fallen ill from septicaemia."

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is investigating.

Ms Hamling said: "We have instituted a recall of the limited number of batches which could potentially have been affected and all stock has been removed from circulation. "

She said no restriction has been placed on their licence.

Four cases of septicaemia, which occurred after the youngsters were infected with the bacterium known as bacillus cereus, were identified at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and one at Whittington Hospital, both in London; three at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton; two at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge; and two at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.

The other three cases were confirmed in babies being treated at St Thomas' Hospital in London, where the baby died.

Parenteral nutrition is supposed to deliver a variety of nutrients intravenously when a baby is unable to eat on its own.

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