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Infant formula shortage impacting children with special needs

Savannah Turner
Posted at 6:44 PM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 23:22:16-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Born prematurely, 11-year-old Savannah Turner experienced some complications that requires her to have a feeding tube and a special kind of formula.

"It's called an elemental formula, and so basically the formula has to be broken down and she has to be able to absorb you know, all the nutrients," Amanda Turner, Savannah's mother, said.

Turner usually gives her daughter Neocate made by Nutricia.

However, when she recently went to order it through Children's Mercy Home Care, she was told they were out of stock. So is the manufacturer.

"I knew there was a formula shortage, you know, in the grocery stores and the stores in town, but it honestly didn't dawn on me that it would affect our community of kids," Turner said.

Turner searched online marketplaces like Amazon where a case of four is just over $300.

A spokesperson for Nutricia sent KSHB 41 News the following statement on the shortages and said the company is working to address the issue:

"The unexpected Abbott Nutrition recall in February has led to a huge surge in demand for medical formula. The supply chain for medical formula is complex as it requires specialized ingredients and extensive quality and food safety procedures to make. Because of this, it takes time to ramp up production.

At Nutricia, we are actively looking at additional ways to further increase supply and we continue to share updates transparently with our customers and consumers. However, given the extent of the Abbott recall, we do expect availability will remain tight in the United States for the foreseeable future.

We also continue to be in in discussions with U.S. government authorities to see how we can support them in addressing the shortages."

Still, Turner has made adjustments and put her daughter on Alfamino, which is produced by Nestle.

"With these specialized medical issues, you know, they have to have a specialized formula, they don't have any other option," Turner said. "But it's also it could also be kind of hard on their heart, on their guts, when you go and change something up."

A spokesperson for Children's Mercy told KSHB 41 News it continues to work with families to ensure patients receive their necessary formula:

The Children’s Mercy clinical team, including Nutrition and Home Care have been working diligently with our partners in Supply Chain to source appropriate and additional formula substitutes since the beginning of the recall. We’re working closely with our families to ensure patients receive the formula necessary to ensure proper nutrition and have partnered with other DME companies who provide services to our patients to help ensure nutrition needs are met. Since the formula supply is everchanging, what we have on hand changes frequently so we’re continuing to work with families on a case-by-case basis.
Children's Mercy

The other option would be to have Savannah admitted at Children's Mercy so she could get her nutrients through intravenous therapy.

Her mom sees it as a short-term solution because she says it's not sustainable in the long run.

"We deal with a lot of stress on a day-to-day basis as it is," Turner said. "And this really just adds to what we already deal with, you know, and adds to the stress and the anxiety and the worry and it's just it's not it's not an easy journey. It's worth it, but it's just, it's hard."