Preemies are vulnerable to a host of problems that full-term babies aren't. One of those problems is a particular swallowing disorder, and the treatment seemed to be a naturally-occurring substance called xanthan gum that was packaged as a product called “Simply Thick,” to be added to breast milk or formula.
The FDA has now warned that this product had caused a life-threatening condition in 15 babies who used it, with two of them dying. So if you’ve been using it, stop and check with your pediatrician about next steps.
Here's what else you need to know ...
The FDA's press release says if you’ve been using this with a full-term baby (or big kid or adult), you shouldn’t have to worry about the adverse reactions. It’s only dangerous, apparently, to babies born before 37 weeks gestation.
The whole thing is so weird to me, because xanthan gum is familiar to anyone who tried to go fat-free or gluten-free at any point -- it’s the thing companies put in fat-free cream cheese and other gross, gross products that overly-diet-obsessed women (like me!) have tried over the years. But like all sorts of other things, like wheat and gluten and who knows what else, it’s not the ingredient itself that’s toxic -- it’s the timing. Premature babies’ guts can’t handle this usually-harmless and natural ingredient.
The condition caused by Simply Thick is called necrotizing enterocolitis, and the symptoms include a bloated tummy, green vomit, bloody poop, and general illness and food-fussiness.
The FDA still hasn’t figured out exactly why xanthan gum would attack babies’ intestines this way, but they wanted to get the word out to preemie parents right away.
Were you told to use Simply Thick?
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