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BCCDC advises parents and caregivers to stop feeding Simply Thick formula to premature infants

VANCOUVER , BC – The BC Centre for Disease Control in conjunction with the Public Health Agency of Canada and US Food and Drug Administration is advising parents and caregivers to stop feeding the thickening product, Simply Thick, to premature infants who were born before 37 weeks as it may cause a life-threatening condition.

Simply Thick is a product that can be added to liquids, such as breast milk and infant formula, to thicken them to make them easier to swallow. It is sometimes used for premature infants to help them with swallowing difficulties.

The US Food and Drug Administration has reported 15 cases of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) including two deaths, involving infants who were fed Simply Thick for varying amounts of time. NEC is a serious (and sometimes fatal) condition where the tissue of the intestine is damaged. It mostly affects premature newborn infants.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with the USFDA on this issue and is investigating whether there have been any related cases in Canada, although to-date, no similar illnesses have been reported in Canada.

Symptoms of NEC include, but are not limited to:

  • Bloated stomach
  • Greenish-tinged vomiting
  • Bloody stools

“Based on the information from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the USFDA, the BCCDC is concerned about the potential health impact on infants. Parents and caregivers should immediately stop using this product,” says Lynn Wilcott, Acting Program Director, Food Protection Services, Environmental Health Services, BC Centre for Disease Control. “Parents may have purchased Simply Thick through BC pharmacies without a prescription or through direct internet sales. If you have been using the product, and notice any unusual symptoms in your infant, contact your health care provider immediately”.

The BCCDC is working with BC health authorities, and the Public Health Agency of Canada to monitor the situation and will provide further updates as necessary.


Media Contact:

Papinder Rehncy
BCCDC Communications

Last Updated: January 17, 2012