ER Docs to Parents: Please Don’t Dilute Infant Formula | Health, Medicine and Fitness
WEDNESDAY, May 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) — As the United States faces a dire shortage of formula, parents are being warned against diluting formula in an effort to stretch what they have.
“Adding extra water to formula to try to make it last longer can put a child at risk for a seizure or other medical emergency,” said Dr. Gillian Schmitz, president of the American College of Emergency. Physicians (ACEP).
“Given the current shortage of formulait can be tempting to look for a workaround, but it’s very important to always mix the formula according to the manufacturer’s instructions,” Schmitz said in a CAPE press release.
Unless advised by a doctor, infants under 6 months should not be given water or any liquid other than infant formula or breast milk, CAPE says.
The formula shortage was caused in part by a manufacturer’s recall as well as supply chain issues. On Tuesday, the Biden administration said it plans to increase formula imports and help reopen a domestic manufacturing plant.
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This could help calm the situation. But for now, ER doctors outline a few do’s and don’ts for parents of infants:
- Always mix formula as directed on the label, unless you have specific instructions from a doctor or other healthcare professional.
- Adding too much water to formula lowers its nutrient levels, which could slow a child’s development and could also cause an electrolyte imbalance that can lead to seizures and other serious health issues.
“Actions that may seem like a harmless way to stretch the formula supply could end up being dangerous,” Schmitz said.
This means that you should also avoid do-it-yourself formulas. Many recipes for homemade formula are available on the Internet, but parents should discuss the safest ways to feed a baby with a doctor.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also advises against giving babies store-bought ingredients like cow’s milk or milk substitutes to infants under 6 months of age. They are not a safe alternative to infant formula, according to the agency. Milk or similar dairy products can cause serious illness in infants when they suffer from heat stress, fever or diarrhea.
An infant cannot digest cow’s milk as completely or as easily as formula or breast milk, and it lacks the proper amounts of iron and other nutrients that infants need. Giving them cow’s milk can irritate the mucous membranes of their still-developing digestive system and cause a dangerous electrolyte imbalance, bloody stools or iron deficiency, CAPE explained.
However, whole milk or infant formula could be a temporary option for several days for a child older than 6 months if infant formula is not available, according to the Emergency Physicians Group.
“An infant needs a careful balance of nutrients, and even a brief disturbance can cause health problems. Don’t hesitate to take a child to the nearest emergency department if you have any concerns that they might have a medical emergency,” Schmitz added.
To learn more about dealing with the shortage of infant formula, go to American Academy of Pediatrics.
SOURCE: American College of Emergency Physicians, press release, May 17, 2022