Baby formula shortage: 2 children hospitalized in Memphis because their special formula is out of stock

The boy, who had been in the hospital for about a week, was released Tuesday. The preschool-age boy, who was admitted in April, remains in the hospital, according to a hospital spokesman.

“It’s been a crisis since February of changing and trying to examine and find something else that works,” Dr. Mark Corkins, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the hospital who is treating the patients, told CNN in a phone interview.

The US Food and Drug Administration said Monday that it is making it easier to import certain infant formulas as it works to address formula shortages across the country.

The two children hospitalized in Memphis have short bowel syndrome and cannot absorb full-size protein. The condition is rare, affecting about 25 out of 100,000 babies. They are based on a formula made of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. These broken down proteins do not have to be digested; they can simply be absorbed by the intestine.

Formula maker Abbott produced about 80% of the special formula they need, a brand called EleCare. When its Sturgis, Michigan, production plant closed in February, patients taking that formula were switched to those made by smaller suppliers, and now those stocks have also been depleted, Corkins said.

He said they tried using other types of formulas, made with chopped protein, but it didn’t work. The children could not tolerate them and became dehydrated.

“In the hospital, we give them IV fluids, and the other thing we give them is IV nutrition. That’s not ideal,” he said. Doctors want to feed these children by mouth so they can use their intestines. The more they use their gut, the more it develops.

Corkins says both boys could have stayed home, were it not for their special nutritional needs, but were hospitalized so they could be fed.

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