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South Florida family knows firsthand effects of nationwide baby formula shortage

MIAMI – A South Florida family knows firsthand the effects of the nationwide formula shortage.

Two-year-old JP Medina had to spend a few days at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, while doctors figured out a new nutrition plan for him as a result.

"We actually have to make that formula every day. It's made in 24-hour batches," says John Paul Medina, who stands in the kitchen carefully weighing and measuring the ingredients. "It's a very difficult process now."

His son was born with renal failure and has highly specialized nutritional needs, typically using Similac 60/40. However, their batches of formula were part of a recall, and, as a result of the shortage, they were left with few options.

"My son is on a feeding tube, so he's constantly being fed," explains Medina. "He takes a certain amount every hour, so it's super critical for him."

"This is the first time, ever, that we've had to deal with this issue, and it's difficult," says Dr. Erick Hernandez, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital.

He says without access to formula, particularly for babies with allergies or sensitivities, it could lead to a lack of proper nutrients

"Growth, development, and even brain development can be affected down the road," Dr. Hernandez explains."

According to the CDC, 46% of infants are breastfed exclusively through 3 months old.

About 26% are breastfed exclusively through 6 months old. That means, by 6 months, nearly 3/4 of babies receive at least some formula.

"You're worried about his kidneys, his nutrition, how much he's getting for his electrolytes, his levels. That was something that definitely hit us hard at the time," says Medina. "We've been lucky to find something that we've been able to get a consistent supply of."

Dr. Hernandez says any dietary changes need to be made with approval from a doctor. If parents do need to switch to a new formula, he suggests incorporating a little of the new with the old, and gradually increasing the amount of the new formula, to get the child accustomed to it.

The formula company Abbott says it plans to resume production in about two weeks, but it will take about six to eight weeks after that to get product on the shelves.

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