A mother in Northern Virginia says the nationwide shortage of formula is affecting her disabled son's nutrition, and he's lost several pounds.
Treva Worthy said her 14-year-old son Ahmad has intellectual disabilities and he cannot eat solid foods due to severe allergies.
His formula, EleCare Jr., is part of a nationwide recall.
"This is where my panic set in. When you look online for all these formulas, it’s out of stock, and it's just unbelievable as a parent to look for food for your child and it’s not there," Worthy said.
Worthy said she's been able to use alternative formulas for Ahmad, but some of those also have supply shortages.
She pays out of pocket for his formula and the current one she was able to find for Ahmad is pricey.
"It’s a financial strain," she said. "I was trying to ration these couple of cans for him and I'm looking at my child saying, 'I can’t feed him' and it's like no one, I thought no one knew how I was feeling," Worthy said.
Recalls, supply chain issues and the shutdown of a production facility have contributed to severe formula shortages.
One website that collects product data states that 40% of popular baby formula brands were sold out at the end of April.
Many stores' shelves are empty and some retailers are limiting the number of cans families can buy.
"What used to be simple thing of going into the store and picking up some formula and having lots of choice of different types of formula has now, actually, become
quite complicated," said Dr. Danielle Dooley, a pediatrician for Children's National Hospital.
It can be an even greater challenge for children like Ahmad with complex needs.
Worthy said her son has already lost nine pounds.
Dooley said parents should work with their pediatricians as some have access to free samples and they can help find safe options until supplies increase.
"We know that families are trying to be extremely resourceful and come up with all sorts of solutions and we are here to help to make sure that those solutions are safe for children," Dooley said.