Some parents are taking desperate measures to feed their babies amid the formula shortage, and Dr. Owais Durrani is witnessing the consequences.
The East Texas emergency-room physician told Insider he and his colleagues had treated infants whose parents had been feeding them watered-down formula in an effort to make their supplies last longer.
But diluting formula offsets the electrolyte balance, leading to low sodium in infants. That, in turn, can shrink babies' blood volume, causing low blood pressure and life-threateningly low levels of circulating oxygen. An electrolyte imbalance can also lead to fatal seizures, Durrani said, though his clinics haven't seen any babies in that state.
"A formula is essentially regulated as closely as any prescribed medication when it comes to the ingredients in it to make sure a baby's kidneys are developing, their liver, their electrolytes — everything else is in a very fine balance," he said.
"They're not as resilient as an adult who might be out in the sun for 12 hours and get dehydrated — we'll still be OK for the most part, but for a baby, that's not the case," Durrani added. "Each electrolyte, each component, each mineral in that formula is very important."
Durrani said parents had also asked him whether various homemade formula recipes were safe. In no case can he or another physician answer yes, he said, since only regulated formulas are known to have the right balance of nutrients for body and brain development.
Recipes with cow, goat, or nut milk aren't safe until a child is 1 year old, Insider's Jane Ridley previously reported.
"They should really not be drinking any kind of nonhuman milk... (Read more)
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