Media stories: Abbott in court, Sancor donations in China

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January 05, 2014

Jury to decide if baby formula caused Sioux City girl's brain damage  Sioux City  CLICK HERE

She receives her food through a tube and takes six medications daily to control seizures and relax her muscles. On Monday, Security National Bank in Sioux City will go to court on her behalf against the maker of the Similac powdered infant formula that Jeanine's parents believe led to their daughter contracting bacterial meningitis and causing severe brain damage when she was just days old. The bank, as the child's conservator, sued Abbott Laboratories in U.S. District Court in Sioux City in February 2011 and seeks monetary damages to pay for Jeanine's future care.

Jury selection begins Monday. The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.

In a 2011 interview, the girl's mother, Megan Surber, said that after switching Jeanine from liquid to powdered formula she received in a gift bag from the hospital, her daughter changed within 24 hours and began crying uncontrollably. The 12-day-old girl was diagnosed with Enterobacter sakazakii meningitis, and she suffered severe, permanent brain damage.

Surber said in that interview that Jeanine's twin brother remained in the hospital with jaundice after birth and did not drink the formula. He has not had health problems.

According to the lawsuit, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has found that powdered infant formula is associated with E. sakazakii infections.

Abbott spokeswoman Tami Jones said the company's products are tested for safety.

"Healthy babies and children are at the heart of what we do, and we recognize the challenges of this child’s circumstances for the Kunkel family," Jones said. "The quality and safety of our products are our top priorities. All powdered infant formula products are extensively tested before release to assure that they meet the nutritional needs of infants and to assure the safety of those products."

The bank's attorneys declined to comment on the record.

Jeanine's father, Troy Kunkel, said Thursday that his daughter, now 5, remains in a wheelchair and can't walk or talk. She does attend school, but is often absent because she contracts every cold and illness that other students bring to school.

Kunkel said he did not know how much money the bank will seek from the jury, but that he wasn't concerned about a jury award. Raising awareness about potential risks of using powdered infant formula is more important, and he said he hopes Jeanine's case will do that.

"If it weren't for the trial, the news, she'd just be another medical case," Kunkel said. "People need to be aware."



SanCor Donates Infant Formula to Chinese Rural Babies



SanCor, a leading dairy producer in Argentina, donated formula products worth 3 million yuan (US$ 495,900) to needy babies in north China's Hebei Province on December 23, 2013. 

The formula will benefit around 10,000 babies aged 0-3 years in Oumakeng Village in Chicheng, a national-level poverty-stricken county in Hebei, in the hope of improving the health and nutrition of needy babies locally. 

"A proper balance of nutrients plays a key role in infants' brain development and nutrient deficits will affect children's later learning, behavior and health," said Guo Xiao from the China Children and Teenagers' Foundation (CCTF). "The donation embodies SanCor's social responsibilities and its concept of balanced nutrition," Guo said. 


"I was so worried that my children would not be as smart as other kids," said Ai Zhonghua, 3-month-old twins' mother who was unable to breastfeed and did not have money to buy high-quality powdered milk. 


Another mother Jia Yongmei was also appreciative that the baby formula she received could feed her child for over a month. 

Ai's and Jia's families were both rated as most needy families by the local government. President of Manantial Trading Co.,Ltd, the general agent of Sancor in mainland China, Li Gang said they would offer formula products for free to feed the children until they turn 3. 

"Sancor aims to provide safe and balanced nutrition for babies all over the world and we introduced the formula products into China this year in an attempt to enable Chinese mothers to do well at feeding their babies in a scientific way," said Li.


(Source: CCTF/Translated and edited by