‘I’ve never seen anything like this.’
As I have feared, sick babies are being hospitalized across the U.S. due to the formula shortage that pediatricians described as a ‘crisis’.
The Medical University of South Carolina confirmed that at least four babies have been admitted to the hospital due to the formula shortage as of Thursday night, while Dr. Mark Corkin said he’s treating two toddlers for the same issue at the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, CBS reported.
According to the hospitals, the babies were admitted due to reactions they suffered from drinking formula different from the ones they usually drank because parents could not find the product amid the shortage.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ Corkins told CBS. ‘They come in dehydrated. We give them IV fluids. We give them nutrition by vein. But that’s not a long term solution.’
The stoppage of formula production at Abbott plant has led directly to a couple of these hospitalizations, as it cut-off the supply of specialty formula essential to address the needs of pediatric health issues.
Both children have short bowel syndrome, which prevents them from absorbing nutrients properly because part of their small intestine is missing, according to Dr. Mark Corkins, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, where the children were treated. Their condition requires special dietary interventions.
One of the children, who is preschool age, was hospitalized at the end of April and is still in the hospital. The other, a toddler, was hospitalized last week and has since gone home.
Each child needs an amino-acid-based formula and had been taking EleCare, a product manufactured by Abbott Nutrition, which closed its plant in Sturgis, Mich., and voluntarily recalled some of its products in February after at least four babies who consumed them were hospitalized with a rare but serious bacterial infection. Abbott reached an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration this week that enables it to resume production in the Sturgis plant in two weeks. Products from that plant may reach shelves within two months.
The rising gasoline prices is also adding an extra challenge, as parents drive for hours trying to obtain the formula they need.
…[U]p to 40 percent of all baby formula is out of stock across the country, causing parents to panic-buy or drive for hours in order to find replacements.
“Having to drive one to two hours away from your own home in hopes of finding formula for your child, then having no luck, makes you feel so guilty,” Kenzie Martin, 29, of White Plains, New York, previously told Newsweek. “I’m scared for the mothers who haven’t welcomed a baby into the world yet and are already scared of not being able to feed their infant.”
Sadly, it is not just infants that are being impacted. Older children with health problems also rely on the Abbott products.
[12-yeat old Claire] Holland has what’s known as tyrosinemia. It means that her body cannot metabolize a specific amino acid called tyrosine. To survive, she has to eat an extremely low protein diet supplemented with a special formula made by Abbott. The formula called Tyrex-2 is an amino acid modified medical food. Without it she won’t get enough vitamins and nutrients that most people would get from regular food.
Holland has been living on this formula her entire life. In February, when Abbott had to shut down its plant in Sturgis, Michigan, her formula wasn’t recalled, but it got stuck at the plant. It meant Holland had to ration how much formula she relies on every day.
Holland’s using about half of the formula she’d normally eat.
“We just wanted to try to make it last a little longer,” said her mother Shannon Holland.
Hopefully, the situation will turn around before we begin to report on formula-shortage-caused deaths.DONATE
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