COLUMBIA, S.C. — Families across the Midlands are scrambling to find baby formula and the shortage is now sending children to the hospital.
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) confirmed Thursday that four babies have been hospitalized due to issues related to the shortage. In one case, a parent made homemade formula, and the others had intolerances or allergic reactions to a different formula, according to the hospital.
Mother of two Ellen Burnette has a month’s supply of formula left to feed her nine-month-old son. She says every retail outlet she checks and every online store is sold out.
“It’s been really difficult to find any," Burnette said. "When I went online, I could only get half a months’ worth.”
Formula is the only food a baby can eat if they aren’t being breast fed. Dietician, Carmen Thompson and Assistant Professor at SC State says it’s crucial babies get it before they start eating solids at six months.
Do-it-yourself recipes and watering down formula is not advised by health experts.
“I do not recommend to make your own formula," Thompson said, adding that diluting formula deprives your child of vital nutrients. "The micronutrients and the macronutrients are made to fit this distribution. If you’re going to add more water then the manufacture suggests, then your infant is not going those nutrients that the baby needs.”
Thompson advises those shopping online to check the can before use.
"Look on the can, make sure the can is not expired. Look and make sure the can has not been tampered with,” Thompson said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises families not to buy more than a 10-day to 2-week supply of formula to ease shortages. Thompson says if families are struggling to find formula or have questions about switching brands, they should call their pediatrician or the health department.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs warns that third-party sellers are creating fake websites, claiming to have formula in stock. The agency is urging parents to be suspicious of listings on places like Facebook marketplace, eBay and even Amazon. Consumer Affairs says to always read reviews.