Previous Post Next Post


Brought to you by

7 Baby Deaths Linked to Formula and Breastmilk Thickening Additive, Says FDA

By ceridwen |

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants parents, caregivers and health care providers to know that SimplyThick, a product that is used to thicken formula or breastmilk for babies who have a very hard time swallowing, appears to increase the risk of the baby developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a life-threatening condition.

Since May 2011 22 infants have developed NEC after being fed SimplyThick. Seven babies have died.

NEC destroys intestinal tissue. It’s unclear whether it was the SimplyThick that caused the NEC in these infants but the FDA is drawing attention to the issue.

SimplyThick is a type of thickening agent added to formula or breastmilk to help babies (and sometimes kids) who need help with swallowing and not spitting up — it’s sometimes recommended for babies with severe reflux or other problems. It’s available via medical centers or pharmacies.

The investigation into the possible dangers of SimplyThick has been going on since May 2011 — after the first cases of NEC appeared, the FDA advised against feeding SimplyThick to infants born before 37 weeks gestation. Now they’re saying that until more research is done into the cases of NEC, parents of babies of all ages should be warned about the possible risk.

According to the FDA the symptoms to watch for are:

  • bloated stomach
  • greenish-tinged vomiting
  • bloody stools

I learned about this on Facebook via the excellent breastfeeding resource Kellymom. The headline from read that “Baby Deaths Linked to Infant Formula Additive.’ On the Faebook feed I was bummed to see knee-jerk bashing of formula. Luckily other voices prevailed. Such as, “Ladies, this type of product is for babies with medical problems (severe reflux, swallowing problems).” And, “I used this to thicken breastmilk for my daughter. I’m so sorry for the mommas, but a lose for moms and babies isn’t a “win for breastfeeding”. Some babies have medical needs and need thickener– just not THIS thickener, apparently.” A number of commentators on Kellymom had used or were using this additive so I’m hoping the word will get out quickly to consumers.



Ceridwen Morris (CCE) is a childbirth educator and the co-author of the pregnancy and birth guide From The Hips. Follow her blogging on Facebook.


More on Babble

About ceridwen



Ceridwen Morris is a writer, mother, and certified childbirth educator. She is the author of several books and screenplays, including (Three Rivers; 2007). She serves on the board of The Childbirth Education Association of Metropolitan New York and teaches at Tribeca Parenting in New York City. Read bio and latest posts → Read Ceridwen's latest posts →

« Go back to Pregnancy

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Comments, together with personal information accompanying them, may be used on and other Babble media platforms. Learn More.

One thought on “7 Baby Deaths Linked to Formula and Breastmilk Thickening Additive, Says FDA

  1. Sanriobaby =^.^= says:

    To think that as a parent you are trying to help your child get nourishment and it resulted in further illness or even the death of thier child is just a horrible thing to imagine. But with all things, one must be very careful about what you are giving to your child, no matter how safe your doctor says it is…. My heart goes out to each of those families. Hearing such things makes me feel very grateful that my daughter had no reflux issues and that I’m able to express my breastmilk for her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Previous Post Next Post