BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — The ongoing baby formula shortage is impacting people across the country and those here in East Tennessee.
Some are trying to find alternative solutions like switching to breastfeeding or finding other formulas that are available. However, not everyone has that option.
One Blount County mom said it’s not just those with babies who are being impacted. Kathleen Wermuth’s daughter Stephanie Wermuth is 23 years old. Stephanie is special needs, severely handicapped, and relies on a special formula to get the nutrition she needs.
“We don’t have any other options to feed her,” said Kathleen.
Stephanie requires 24-hour care. Her mom explained, “she was born with a rare genetic syndrome called Phelan-McDermid syndrome, and it’s basically a deletion of chromosome 22q13, and the best way to describe it is it’s like cerebral palsy and autism in one.”
Stephanie eats from a feeding tube and needs a special formula to meet her dietary needs.
“It’s Neocate Junior. It’s a hypoallergenic formula. A lot of formulas are made with a lot of soy and dairy. Her top three allergies are peanuts, soybean, and dairy,” said Kathleen.
However, trying to find that formula is almost impossible.
“Right now, it’s pretty much finding a needle in a haystack,” Kathleen said. “A lot of people talk about the formula shortage with babies, and I think they don’t realize that it’s a much bigger scope of a problem.”
Kathleen said that she gets her daughter’s formula from a medical supply company. Usually, they get 15 cans a month with the rest of their medical needs. The other day, they only were able to get three cans.
“One can is about 2 days,” Kathleen stated. “We’re not scheduled to get anymore probably until the 24th of May.”
Even then, she’s not sure new formula will be available,
“It’s really a bad situation for people that do depend on tube feedings, trying to get formula.”
They’ve tried other formulas in the past, but with Stephanie’s food allergies, nothing else has worked.
“She’s been on that formula for over four years. So, we kind of would like to stick with it because we know that it works.”
Kathleen said finding an alternative really isn’t an option for them,
“I’m hoping people realize that it’s just not babies because a lot of people are commenting that you know moms can just go and breastfeed.”
The FDA said in a statement that it’s taking additional steps to increase formula supplies. This includes putting out new temporary guidelines to manufacturers to help increase production.
Doctors are also warning people to be careful when looking for social media ‘tips’ on formula replacements.