At least four babies have been hospitalized in South Carolina due to the shortage of infant formula in the United States, as the first military flights bringing emergency supplies from Europe will land in the United States this weekend.
An official at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston said the hospital was treating the babies either because the homemade formulas had made them sick or because they couldn’t tolerate the new formulas that their parents were forced to use as a substitute.
MUSC spokesperson Heather Woolwine said The state that many children have “complex health problems, including nutritional ones”.
She said it was difficult to identify an exact number of people in need of treatment, but she could think of at least four so far whose illnesses are linked to the shortage of infant formula.
Pediatric dieticians at the hospital “now work with each child’s healthcare team to find a formula or nutrition that works for them based on allergy and caloric needs,” she said.
As parents across the country scramble to get their hands on limited supplies of infant formula amid the national crisis, those with infants with allergies and intolerances face an additional dilemma.
Many have been forced to use alternative products to feed their children and several babies have fallen ill and been hospitalized as a result.
Several children’s hospitals across the country reported babies being admitted due to formula shortages.
In Memphis, a doctor said this week that he treated two children as a direct result of formula shortages.
Dr Mark Corkins, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, told Action News that both children had bowel problems that required them to be fed a particular type of formula.
They both reacted badly when their parents could not find the required formula and were now being treated with IV fluid and supplemental nutrition in hospital, he said.
At Children’s Wisconsin in Milwaukee, hospital officials said several babies were brought to the emergency room for malnutrition.
“We are seeing more and more children for whom inappropriate infant formula substitutions are a factor in their hospitalization,” a spokesperson told local outlet TMJ4.
This weekend, the first planes bringing formula from Europe will land in Indiana as part of the Biden administration’s effort to provide much-needed supplies to American families.
The White House announced on Friday that 132 pallets of Nestlé Health Science Alfamino Infant and Alfamino Junior formulas will be flown from Germany to the United States this weekend.
An additional 114 palettes of the Gerber Good Start Extensive HA formula will arrive in the coming days, with approximately 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of the three formulas expected to arrive this week.
Military aircraft will fly the formula as part of “Operation Fly Formula”.
In addition to flying the formula from overseas, the president also invoked the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to increase production in the United States.
It comes as the shortage has reached crisis levels, with parents scrambling desperately to try to feed their babies and some being forced to shell out around $100 for a single box online.
In the week ending May 8, 43% of top-selling infant formulas were out of stock at US retailers, according to analysis by Datasembly.
At this time last year, Datasembly found that out-of-stock levels fluctuated between just 2-8%.
The shortage was fueled by the February closure of Abbott Nutrition’s factory in Sturgis, Michigan, which is the largest infant formula maker in the United States.
All production has been halted at the factory for the past three months and three of its products have been voluntarily recalled after the death of two babies and at least four others have been hospitalized with bacterial infections after consuming the formula produced in factory.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched an investigation and warned parents not to use certain Similac, Alimentum and EleCare products.
It is not yet known whether the bacterium comes from the plant.
Abbott said in a statement that none of its products tested positive for Cronobacter sakazakii or Salmonella and that a review indicated that the formula produced at its Sturgis plant “is not likely to be the source of infection in reported cases and that there has been no outbreak caused by the establishment’s products”.
The FDA has not yet released the findings of the investigation.
The agency and Abbott said they were working to restart manufacturing at the plant as soon as possible.