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Amid formula woes, Children’s Hospital of Ga. sees more patients

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 6:19 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re following updates on the nationwide shortage of baby formula.

The Biden administration announced it’s speeding up production and flights to import more supplies from overseas. The U.S. Senate passed legislation to expand access for families who buy formula through the WIC program.

The bill ensures families can continue to buy formula with WIC benefits during supply chain issues. It now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.

The Children’s Hospital of Georgia confirms they have seen hospitalizations from nutritional issues stemming from the shortage. As we know, it could still take two months for more formula to hit store shelves.

We talked to two local experts about what parents can do in the meantime. The situation isn’t getting better for families looking for formula.

They say this is about the community stepping up to lend a helping hand to those desperately in need. With at least 50 percent of the baby formula supply out at local grocery stores, our local hospitals are starting to see an uptick in patients.

“We’ve been seeing a lot for patients surrounding formula and getting it and certainly feeling comfortable having it,” said Jacob Eichenberger, pediatric doctor, Augusta University.

Not only are they seeing children come in with nutritional issues, but getting them out of the hospital is another battle.

Desha McNeair, pediatric dietician, AU “The problem is when babies discharge; parents are having trouble finding it. We’re worried about them when they go home being able to find the formula we prescribed them.”

It’s typically impacting children with heart, kidney, or food allergy complications.

“They’re not having their normal number of wet diapers, if they look dehydrated, if they’re super sleepy or lethargic, you always want to bring them into the hospital,” she said.

Doctors say the solution is to try store brand formula, talk with your pediatrician, or look to local churches and groups for support.

If you’re in dire need, the hospital will help you.

“If you are having trouble finding the formula that your child needs and you have run out, please go to the hospital. Push comes to shove, we will give you samples that we have. We would much rather feed your baby safely than have them admitted to the hospital,” said McNeair.

If things don’t get better, they may have to take more steps toward helping some families.

Eichenberger said: “If this becomes a prolonged thing, our hospital would have to work at setting up some sort of distribution just to help the community like we do.”

Some people have been asking about donating breast milk to help ease the stress. CHOG says they are not taking donations right now. Visit Human Milk Bank Association to find out how to donate.

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