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2 Memphis children hospitalized due to formula crisis | What moms can do as shortage intensifies

Two children had to be hospitalized at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital because they required feeding by IV because specialty formula they rely on isn't available.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The baby formula shortage nationally is intensifying locally in the Memphis area.

Two children had to be hospitalized at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital - a preschooler and a toddler - because the specialized formula they rely on isn't available now, requiring vital feeding through an IV.

One of the two has since been discharged from the hospital, a Le Bonheur spokesperson told ABC. The toddler was released after being admitted to the hospital last week. 

The preschooler is still in the hospital. That child was admitted in April, the hospital spokesperson said.  

The children are from two separate families unrelated to each other. Both children have preexisting health conditions and special medical needs that are playing a part in their adverse reaction now: they are living with intestinal conditions, ABC reports.

When the supply of their usual formula ran out, their bodies did not adapt well to the new formula type.

They were brought to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis where they were being treated with IV fluids and supplemental nutrition.

The hospital told ABC it is getting stretched thin with their formula supply.

Meanwhile, pediatricians are offering solutions for stressed out parents finding bare shelves in a crisis showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

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"I have never had anything like where we are at right now. This is pretty dire and unexpected," Dr. Mark Corkins, a pediatrician at Le Bonheur, told ABC24 Tuesday. 

For him, the shortage is reaching a crisis stage, with some specialty brands almost completely out of stock.

"Time is ticking, absolutely, because some of these there are no substitutes. It's like all of a sudden this life-saving medicine is disappeared for someone's kids," Dr. Corkins added.

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The impact is also being felt in rural Tipton County, where one mother sent ABC24 pictures of empty or near empty shelves at different stores. The pursuit is draining gas and dashing hopes for parents on short supply.

"Look ahead if you are running low; you need to take action," Dr. Corkins said.

If breast feeding isn't an option for moms, there's one solution if the baby is approaching his or her first birthday.

"Kids, if they are near a year of age and their nutrition is good, we will usually recommend holding off on cow's milk until a year of age. But if they are 11 months and they are growing and have a wide variety, go ahead and switch to cow's milk," Dr. Corkins added.

If parents are in a pinch, formula samples are also likely available at local WIC or pediatrician offices. 

Even with the stressful situation, Dr. Corkins reminded parents to never dilute formulas or attempt homemade formulas.

"Big risks because you need everything that's in the formula, and because of that you need a complete formula. When you make it at home there's no way you can get everything you need in it," Dr. Corkins said.

Le Bonheur doctors said the formula shortage highlights the need for a new strategy of stronger contingency plans and more backup production options to ensure something like this never happens again.

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