PARENTS using a handy gadget to prepare their baby's formula have been have been warned it could leave their little ones as risk.
Formula preparation machines claim to safely and conveniently whip up your baby's meal- but research found that a horrifying 85 per cent of them fail to kill harmful bacteria in the powder.
Powdered baby formula isn't sterile and needs to be made with boiling hot water to kill any germs in it, before being cooled.
NHS guidance states it should be mixed with water that's 70oC or hotter, to avoid contamination that can result in serious illness and even death.
But research conducted by Swansea University found that 85 per cent of the 74 formula prep machines tested by parents in UK homes didn't produce water that would be hot enough to kill all harmful bacteria in infant formula.
This could pose a serious risk to infant health, researchers stated.
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They urged to double check the temperature of their baby's formula before feeding it to them if using machine.
Lead author Dr Aimee Grant, a senior lecturer in public health, called the findings concerning.
"If any parents are worried, I’d advise them to buy a food thermometer and test the temperature of just the hot water that comes out of their machine," she said, noting that they shouldn't feed little ones with this water due to potential contamination.
"If it’s below 70 degrees, do not use the machine to prepare infant formula and contact the machine manufacturer,” she told parents.
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Researchers also had 69 parents who used a kettle to make up infant formula to record the temperature of the water.
By comparison, just 22 per cent found that their kettle water wasn't hot enough to eradicate dangerous bacteria.
Almost three quarters of UK babies are fed infant formula in their first six weeks and this rises to 88 per cent by six months of age, the Swansea research team said.
In the study -published in the Maternal & Child Nutrition journal – 74 of the 143 parents used infant formula preparation machines while the remaining 69 parents used kettles.
Formula-fed babies have a higher risk of gastrointestinal infections compared to breastfed tots, which can be caused by bacterial contamination from the powdered formula or equipment used for feeding.
Handling the two with unwashed hands could also put your little one at risk.
Jonie Cooper, a parent who took part in the study, said her prep machine only reached a temperature of 52oC.
"When I saw this I was shocked because I trusted the machine to follow the NHS guidelines on the temperature of the water, because it was specifically designed for babies."
Researchers are now recommending stronger consumer protections on the marketing of infant formula preparation devices, to help protect infants from infant formula related bacterial contamination.
They also called for labelling on formula to be updated to make clear that powdered infant formula is not sterile and the risks of not using sufficiently hot water, in line with NHS and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance.
Finally they said data should be collected on the batches of infant formula and preparation equipment used when infants are taken to hospital with gastrointestinal infections.
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Professor Robin May, chief scientific adviser at the Food Standards Authority (FSA) who funded the study, said: “The findings of this project emphasise the importance of checking that water used to prepare infant formula is at a temperature of at least 70oC, regardless of the method used."
He added: “The FSA is working closely with other partners including the Office for Product Safety and Standards to determine whether any further actions are required."
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