It was shown in clinical experiments that alimentary methemoglobinemia in artificially fed infants is provoked by nitrites originating from nitrates contained in water used for diluting dried-milk preparations. The reduction of nitrates is induced by the influence of sporulating germs of B. subtilis contained as spores in the dried milk. In areas where water contains high concentrations of nitrates a great percentage of artificially fed infants are affected, even if the methemoglobinemia does not manifest itself clinically. Dried buttermilk contains microbes of lactic fermentation S. lactis, producing the antibiotic nisin. This prevents the growth of the sporulating microbes of B. subtilis. Consequently, prevention of this disease, caused by intoxication with nitrites, is possible, by the use of dried buttermilk for the artificial feeding of infants up to 3 months of age.
- Received September 13, 1963.
- Accepted February 8, 1964.
- Copyright © 1964 by the American Academy of Pediatrics