Worry grows as 2 babies hospitalized due to formula shortage

Health

(NewsNation) — Worry among parents is growing nationwide after two babies were hospitalized with symptoms resulting from a lack of access to baby formula as the nation’s formula shortage continues to put parents in a bind.

Congress and the White House have stepped in to address the formula shortage. The House Appropriations Committee proposed using $28 million in emergency spending to combat the shortage.

Last week, President Joe Biden met with executives from formula makers Gerber and Reckitt to try to find solutions to the issue.

Abbott then announced this week it would re-open a closed formula factory in Michigan to ramp up production again, if the reopening plan is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In addition, Nestle has agreed to fly baby formula into the U.S. from Europe to aid.

In the more immediate future, however, parents and doctors worry more children could fall sick and be hospitalized due to the formula shortage.

Dr. Ruben Gonzalez-Vallina, a pediatric gastroenterologist, said babies who are hospitalized from a lack of formula can see rashes break out on their bodies, vomiting and diarrhea.

He added he has never seen anything like this in his career and “cannot believe” this is happening in the U.S.

Parents absolutely have a right to be concerned about the shortage, he said.

“Of course they have a reason to be concerned,” Gonzalez-Vallina said. “I have a saying: ‘Don’t mess with success,’ If my kid is doing good on this formula, why change it? And especially before six months of age.”

He hopes a solution is on the horizon but warned parents not to attempt to make their own formula.

Hope could be coming in the form of the House spending package that would use funding to increase Food and Drug Administration staffing to boost inspections of domestic and international suppliers, prevent fraudulent products from getting onto store shelves and acquire better data on the marketplace.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee, was critical of the FDA’s failure to address “with any sense of urgency” the safety concerns at Abbott’s plant in Michigan that prompted the shortage.

The House Appropriations Committee will hear from FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Thursday to discuss the agency’s budget. Lawmakers are expected to focus much of the discussion on the formula shortage. A panel is also expected to have a second hearing featuring experts who will discuss the recall of infant formula produced at the Abbott facility and the FDA’s handling of the recall.

The House is expected to take up the emergency spending measure later this week before lawmakers head back to their congressional districts for the next two weeks. It’s unclear where Republicans stand on the bill. Rep. Kay Granger, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, said committee members need more details.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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