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2 Tennessee children hospitalized due to formula shortage, doctor speaks out on crisis


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Two young children from Tennessee, who have special nutritional needs, have been hospitalized after being unable to access the formula they need due to shortages in supplies in America.

The children – a preschooler and a toddler – were admitted to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis in April and last week, respectively, a hospital representative confirmed to Fox News Digital.

“These are young children with special health conditions and medical needs who have specific dietary requirements,” their doctor, Dr. Mark Corkins, division chief of pediatric gastroenterology at Happiness Children’s, told Fox News. Digital in a press release.

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“Their bodies did not adapt well to the new type of formula and they required treatment via IV fluids and supplemental nutrition,” added Corkins, who is also a professor at the University of Tennessee.

The shortage of infant formula has left parents frantically searching for ways to feed their children for weeks. Empty formula shelves at a Long Island, NY, Target are shown. Photo taken by Nicole Pelletière.
(Digital Fox News)

Doctors were able to find a new solution for the toddler, who was admitted to hospital last week and discharged on Tuesday, the rep confirmed.

The preschooler, who was admitted in April, is in stable condition. However, doctors are still trying to find a solution to the child’s nutritional needs.

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In a Wednesday phone call with Fox News Digital, Corkins commented on the formula shortage.

“It’s the worst of my career that I’ve ever seen,” Corkins told Fox News Digital. “It’s like tearing your hair out, screaming at the crisis from the ceiling.”

2 Tennessee children hospitalized due to formula shortage, doctor speaks out on crisis

A preschooler and toddler with special dietary needs was admitted to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, due to a shortage of infant formula.
(Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital)

“For me, as a medical specialist, pediatric gastroenterologist, there are the metabolic formulas and the amino acid formulas that we use for children with specific diseases that literally are like medicine for them. And we have no alternatives,” he added.

Corkins said that generally switching brands of formula is not a problem unless the child has special medical or dietary needs.

“It’s like tearing your hair out, screaming at the crisis from the ceiling.”

— Dr. Mark Corkins

For these particular cases, Corkins said parents should definitely consult with their doctor to find the right solution for their children before trying anything on their own.

Although the situation is dire, Corkins said the recent agreement between Abbott Nutrition and the FDA to allow Abbott to reopen its infant formula factory shows some light at the end of the tunnel.

“Eventually this crisis will end,” Corkins said. “It’s just a matter of getting there.”

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Corkins said the multidisciplinary team of pediatric experts at Happiness Children’s and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center work carefully to perform “multiple substitutions throughout a child’s care in order to s ‘ensuring her nutritional needs are met’ – a process that can be difficult for parents to manage on their own, he explained.

2 Tennessee children hospitalized due to formula shortage, doctor speaks out on crisis

A sign advising consumers of formula purchase limits hangs on the edge of an empty shelf for the product at a King Soopers grocery store, Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in southeast Denver. Across the country, parents are struggling to find in-stock formula in stores due to supply chain disruptions combined with a massive safety recall. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

“Parents should contact their pediatrician if they have questions about formula options,” Corkins added.

For weeks, families across the country have struggled to find infant formula. As a result, many have searched online to find out if it’s safe to switch their kids to another formula when the brand they normally serve is missing from store shelves, Fox News Digital previously reported.

2 Tennessee children hospitalized due to formula shortage, doctor speaks out on crisis

Formula milk is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store with a sign restricting purchases in Indianapolis, Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
((AP Photo/Michael Conroy))

The United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) says “changing the brand or type of formula to a more available formula” is a safe and potentially helpful option parents can take when trying to manage the national formula shortage.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics also wrote, “It’s okay to switch to any available formula, including store brands, unless your baby is on a specific heavily hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula such as than Elecare (no store brand exists)”, in a recent guide to infant formula shortages.

Fox News Digital’s Cortney Moore contributed to this report.

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