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Baby formula shortage could mean life or death for kids with metabolic issues

In 43 states, more than 40% of baby formula was recently out of stock — and families with special dietary needs are growing desperate.  

Eight-year-old Izzy Bradford is a bundle of energy. But the third-grader suffers from the rare disorder phenylketonuria, also known as PKU, and relies on special formula for about 70% of her nutrition. 

If she didn’t have the metabolic formula, “she would start to sort of break down psychologically, emotionally, and physically,” her mother, Sarah Chamberlin, told CBS News. “In the long term, not having the formula would result in permanent brain damage.”

About 17,000 Americans suffer from PKU, one of many metabolic disorders requiring specialized formula. 

Chamberlin said her family received only two cans of special formula in their last order when they were supposed to receive 16. 

Pediatrician Dr. Paul Levy fears if more patients run dry, treatment will be limited for them. 

“It’s going to be a big problem,” he told CBS News. “Even if they get sick and we admit them to the hospital, the tools that we would use are based on the formulas. So we have a limited repertoire of tools we can use even if they’re in the hospital.”

Abbott Nutrition told CBS News it will prioritize special formulas when it ramps up production again. 

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