Tennessee hospitalizations spotlight infant formula shortage

The hospitalization of two young children in Tennessee has magnified concerns over a national shortage of baby formula, The New York Times reported May 17.

The children were hospitalized at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis after their parents couldn't find EleCare, an amino-acid-based formula produced by Abbott Nutrition. The children — one a toddler and one preschool age — have short bowel syndrome, a condition that prevents them from absorbing nutrients properly. 

One child was hospitalized last week and has since been discharged. The other has been hospitalized since the end of April. Mark Corkins, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, said the situation is the worst crisis he's seen in his medical career. 

The shortages are fueled by supply chain issues and recalls from Abbott, which holds 48.1 percent of the baby formula market. The company closed its manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Mich., in February and recalled several products over contamination issues that left four children in the hospital with rare infections.

The FDA on May 16 reached an agreement with Abbott to reopen the manufacturing plant in about two weeks to help ease the shortages, according to the Times.

House Democrats proposed a $28 million emergency funding bill May 17 to help the FDA address current and future formula shortages. The House is set to review the bill this week, according to the Times



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