2 children were hospitalized due to a shortage of infant formula

Two Tennessee children were recently hospitalized because their families couldn’t find the specific formula they needed during a nationw...


Two Tennessee children were recently hospitalized because their families couldn’t find the specific formula they needed during a nationwide shortage that has worsened over the past month, sending parents frantically search for temporary solutions.

According to Dr. Mark Corkins, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, where the children were treated, both children suffer from short bowel syndrome, which prevents them from properly absorbing nutrients. because part of their small intestine is missing. Their condition requires special dietary interventions.

One of the children, a preschooler, was hospitalized in late April and is still in hospital. The other, a toddler, was hospitalized last week and has since returned home.

Every child needs amino acid formula and had taken EleCare, a product made by Abbott Nutrition, which closed its plant in Sturgis, Michigan, and has 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 entered into an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration this week which allows it to resume production at the Sturgis plant in two weeks. Products from this factory can reach the shelves within two months.

Abbott’s products account for 48.1% of the infant formula market share, according to an IBIS World report in 2020, making it difficult for the industry to quickly increase supply. Combined with pandemic-related supply chain issues, the recall was a catalyst for the drastic shortage nationwide.

Dr. Corkin called it the worst crisis he had experienced in his medical career. He said there has recently been an increase in calls from families whose children have disabilities or medical conditions that require them to follow specific formulas.

The two children hospitalized in Tennessee, whose families declined to speak to the media, did not respond well to several other types of formula Dr. Corkins tried to put on them. Other formulas contain proteins that need to be broken down by a person’s body, but the protein in EleCare is made up of basic amino acids.

“They don’t have to digest it, they just absorb it“, said Dr. Corkins.

On the other formulas, Dr. Corkins said, children suffered from dehydration and diarrhea or had too much outlet in their ostomy bags. To keep them healthy, he had to put them on drips and nutrition, which he said carried a risk of infection and did not give the stomach or intestines the optimal level of nutrients.

Other short-term risks of not being able to get the proper nutrients, he said, include high levels of potassium and salt in the blood, which can lead to heart or kidney complications. Dr Corkins said he was also concerned about the long-term impact on brain growth and development.

“Even though they’re not having a bowel movement and getting dehydrated and having trouble with fluids, I’m concerned if they’re getting enough nutrition to grow as they should,” said he declared.

On Tuesday, House Democrats proposed an emergency funding bill this would provide the FDA with $28 million to deal with the current crisis and prepare for future shortages. The legislation is expected to reach the House floor this week.

The shortage has been particularly hard on low-income families and those whose children have restricted diets and disabilities. Some parents have considered diluting the formula to make it last longer, but doctors have warned against doing so as it could lead to serious health issues. The Department of Health and Social Services has put an information sheet with resources to help families find formula.

Nurses and doctors at Dr. Corkins Hospital work with patients to safely modify formula recipes and perform follow-up examinations and tests on children, he said. Many of the most affected children have short bowel syndrome, enzyme defects that affect the way they can break down food, or other bowel conditions.

Dr Corkins said families unable to find formula should contact their pediatrician and monitor their children’s health closely. For now, he said, hospitals across the country will most likely have to take stopgap measures that won’t be ideal for children.

“There are enough of these kids out there that we’re not alone,” he said. “We’re going to stumble until the formula comes back.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: 2 children were hospitalized due to a shortage of infant formula
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