More American Children Face Hospitalization as Infant Formula Shortage Continues

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Another state is reporting that American children are facing hospitalization because of a shortage of baby formula. Georgia officials are reporting children with medical conditions are hospitalized at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta because their families could not find the food their infants need.

Not only babies, but also older children had been hospitalized, but ‘all have since been discharged,’ according to the hospital.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported:

A spokesperson for Children’s said Thursday all the children hospitalized had specific dietary needs and any changes to their formula needed to be carefully monitored to make they could be well tolerated. It can be a long, complicated process to find a substitution that meets the children’s nutritional needs, and then make sure the new formula won’t trigger any negative and potentially dangerous reactions, such as dehydration or diarrhea.

The hospital declined to provide a specific number of children hospitalized, but said some were hospitalized back in February when a formula plant was closed, and others were hospitalized more recently as the formula shortage has worsened.

News of the local hospitalizations come as the baby formula shortage has reached a high pitch, with parents desperately looking for formula and stores depleted. White House and federal agencies this week have taken steps to restart the Abbott Nutrition’s Michigan formula plant, the largest in the U.S., which has been closed since February due to contamination problems. President Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to direct suppliers of formula ingredients to prioritize delivery to manufacturers. Even so, Abbott has estimated it could take at least two months for the supply to return to stores.

Physicians and health experts say that finding substitutions is not easy and can even be dangerous.

Dr. Stephen Thacker, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and associate chief medical officer at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia, said that for the majority of children, changing to a different formula would not be harmful, and advised parents whose babies or other children need a ‘specialty formula’ to make a plan in consultation with their pediatrician on what to do if the local supply runs out.

Dr. Hugo Scornik, the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Georgia chapter, said parents should not water down formula, try to make their own off recipes found online, or give them cow’s milk.

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