Tainted Probiotic Killed Newborn, Family Claims

     NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CN) – A premature baby died from fungus-contaminated probiotic powder that he was given in the hospital, his estate claims in court.
     “It’s a sad set of circumstances that this child had to lose his life,” attorney John Naizby said in an interview.
     Naizby represents the estate of Calvin Jimmy Lee-White, who developed sepsis and died at just 8 days old on Oct. 11, 2014.
     Staff at Yale-New Haven Hospital where the baby was born “repeatedly poisoned” him with a fungus-contaminated batch of the dietary supplement ABC Dophilus Powder, according to the complaint filed Friday in superior court.
     Lee-White’s estate says pharmaceutical company Solgar Inc. had marketed the powder as a “selective blend of beneficial friendly bacteria,” designed to help maintain a healthy balance within a baby’s intestines.
     When the parents saw their son develop bulges in his stomach after taking the powder, medical personnel brushed off reaction to being born premature, according to the complaint.
     They say the hospital knew “that probiotics such as ABC Dophilus Powder have the potential to cause sepsis in the immune-weakened population such as premature infants like Calvin Jimmy Lee-White.”
     Lee-White’s family allegedly never received any warning “of the considerable uncertainty surrounding the use of probiotics prior to giving the decedent the probiotic.”
     They say the hospital also knew that that the antibiotics that the baby was taking “could negate any possible positive effect created by being on the probiotic.”
     A month after the baby’s death, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that Solgar was “voluntarily recalling ABC Dophilus Powder.”
     “Testing conducted by the Centers for Disease Control revealed the presence of Rhizopus oryzae in 1.75 oz (50 g) containers of Solgar ABC Dophilus Powder, which may cause Mucormycosis,” the FDA release states. “This is a rare infection that may cause health problems to consumers, particularly pre-mature infants/infants, children, and those with weakened immune systems.”
     The FDA’s release includes a “do not consume” recommendation and advises those who used the powder to report any adverse reactions.
     Though Leonia, N.J.-based Solgar and its Ronkonkoma, N.Y., parent company NBTY purportedly subjects their products to rigorous quality control and stringent testing, Lee-White’s estate says the companies allowed “the placement of dangerous products in a defective condition into the stream of commerce.”
     Attorney Naizby said it remains unclear how the fungus – which generally originates from rotting vegetables – got into the powder, but that it is likely it was introduced at the point of manufacturing or during packaging as unopened lots of the powder also included the fungus.
     A heavily redacted report by the FDA on the powder was one of the bases for the estate’s lawsuit, Naizby said, and is likely to reveal more details during the suit’s discovery phase.

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