Six months after a newborn baby died, his grieving mother made a horrifying discovery by chance. One of the most trusted baby formulas on the market, which her baby had consumed, had been recalled. The Texas mom demanded justice.
Cynthia Salinas was enjoying each day she had with her newborn son Azael, and the new mom only wanted him to have the best life could offer. When the newborn died from an aggressive bacterial brain infection, she could not imagine how it happened. From her Texas home, the young mother reminisced as local reporters gathered to hear about her devastating ordeal.
“He was born a healthy, beautiful, beautiful baby,” Salinas recalled with tears running down her cheeks. “I always wanted to know what had happened to my son, and there were not really answers.” Azael’s symptoms started when he was just two weeks old, she said. First, there was diarrhea. Then, came the vomiting.
The only thing Salinas had ever fed her baby boy was Similac Pro Advance powdered formula — the same formula the hospital, where he was born, had first given them. Like any good parent, the new mom rushed her son to the pediatrician, hoping Azael’s illness wasn’t serious. The doctor sent them home with Pedialyte and Tylenol, Salinas recalled. However, the newborn wasn’t getting better.
“And, when we went back home, I noticed that it was just getting worse, so I took him to the hospital,” Salinas said. “That’s where everything went downhill. He just got really sick.” Emergency room doctors ordered tests and made a shocking discovery. Azael tested positive for Salmonella bacteria that had attacked his brain, and there was no hope of recovery.
“This bacteria really, really did so much damage to my baby,” Salinas said. When there was no hope, Salinas held her son one final time. The death certificate reads, “Salmonella Meningitis.” Fast forward six months later as the grieving mom made her own horrifying discovery after she heard a news report about a baby formula recall.
“Abbott Nutrition recalled certain powdered formulas for infants produced at the Sturgis, Michigan, plant,” KSAT12 News reported. “The recall included Similac Pro Advance. At the time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating complaints of Cronobacter and Salmonella infections in infants who consumed the formulas.” That was the same report Salinas heard from her Texas home just six months after baby Azael had died.
“It just clicked,” the young mom said. “I ran to where I have this formula and I checked it. And, once I saw it, it was just, my heart, just, it just hurt.” The lot number was a match, she said. The very formula recalled was the same formula she had trustingly fed her newborn son. “When this recall came out, I felt betrayed,” Salinas said. “This is supposed to be a really good formula. And now, all this is happening, and you just you have a lot of unanswered questions going on right now, and hopefully, we get answers pretty soon.”
According to pediatricians and parents polled, they rated Similac Pro Advance as the best baby formula “overall” on the market today. So, it’s no wonder Cynthia Salinas felt betrayed. Nevertheless, the FDA said that it was officially investigating four reports of Cronobacter infections in infants, two of them fatal. As for Azael’s Samonella illness, Salinas said an FDA officer came to her house in the Rio Grande Valley and collected formula samples for testing.
Abbott Nutrition did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. But, that wasn’t stopping Cynthia Salinas from seeking justice through a lawsuit. She also urged all parents to check their formula to be certain it is not among any recalled products. “I don’t want any other mother or any other child to have to go through what my son went through. I don’t,” she said. “I miss him so much.”
Now, Cynthia Salinas is left to recover from the devastating loss, knowing she did nothing wrong. The only solace the young mother has is knowing that she has done everything in her power to ensure Azeal did not die in vain. It won’t be an easy path, seeking justice from a big corporation, but we can hope that fighting for what is right will ultimately help her heal.