Two children were hospitalized at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Tennessee after their parents couldn’t find a special type of baby formula amid a nationwide shortage, according to a local doctor.
Dr. Mark Corkins, a pediatric gastroenterologist who treated the two children, confirmed to local media that the pair were hospitalized due to a lack of baby formula. Neither doctors nor families could find the special type of formula in local stores, he said.
“They can’t absorb these other formulas, and they end up getting dehydrated and falling behind,” he told Fox13.
Specifically, he treated a toddler and a preschooler as a direct result of the baby formula shortage. When the parents used a different type of formula, the children couldn’t tolerate the change, the doctor said, adding that they were treated with IV fluids and nutrients until that type of formula is available.
“This is literally not just Memphis, not just Tennessee or the south. This is literally all of North America being affected,” Corkins said. “We are trying to do some different ‘doctoring’ formulas that aren’t usually used for this kind of situation and try to see if we can find something that will work.”
Corkins said that he expects more parents and children to seek treatment if action isn’t taken soon to increase the supply of baby formula nationwide.
“I would like to see somehow that our folks work to prevent this. I don’t want this to ever happen again,” Corkins said.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reached an agreement with Abbott Laboratories, the producer of popular products such as Similac, to reopen its facility in Sturgis, Michigan, after the FDA investigated whether there was a bacterial contamination at the plant earlier this year that led to at least four sickened children.
“This is a major step toward re-opening our Sturgis facility so we can ease the nationwide formula shortage,” Abbott CEO Robert Ford said in a statement Monday. “We look forward to working with the FDA to quickly and safely re-open the facility.”
However, Abbott previously warned that it could take up to ten weeks for baby formula products that are produced in the Michigan plant to reach shelves.
The shortage, meanwhile, has placed pressure on the Biden administration to use the Defense Production Act to boost supply. House Democrats this week introduced a $28 billion bill to address the formula shortage, which could give the FDA funds to increase its staff to help inspect baby formula and prepare for potential shortages.