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'Many babies died': Mercy pediatrician advises against making at-home formula

People are making at-home formula to supplement for the national formula shortage, but doctors say it puts the child's health at risk.

ST. LOUIS — Desperate times call for desperate measures.

With the national formula shortage, families are trying to make do with what they can to feed their babies.

Doctors say home-made formula can be a detriment to your child's health.

"Why don't you try goat's milk? Or try home-made formula or why don't you breastfeed? I would go get the shots to try re-lactation in an instant," Hannah Singleton told 5 On Your Side.

She considered all types of options to feed her 5-year-old daughter Isla during the formula shortage.

"She is just unable to digest food, to the point of a couple of times she's even been in shock with like food trials and stuff as a baby," Singleton said.

Isla has 13 various diagnosis between allergies, gastrointestinal and genetics and she's only able to eat hypoallergenic amino acid-based formula.

"We had a tablespoon of carrots and spent seven days in the hospital from it," Singleton said.

Singleton spends about $100 a day for a can of Neocate formula.

Mercy Kids Chesterfield Pediatrician Jessica Smith said the financial burden is a safer option than at-home remedies.

"We've been studying how to make formula for years and years, and finally we are good at it, but many babies died while people attempted to make their own formula," Smith said.

Smith said homemade formula likely lacks the nutrients needed to keep babies healthy.

"It doesn't take much to make a baby become very sick and have seizures, not get the calories they need and end up in the hospital, so it is not safe to make your own formula at home. I would not even use your grandmother's recipe," Smith said.

She also advises against watering down the formula doses to make it last longer.

"You're causing more free water and less electrolytes and calories for your infant and putting them at risk," Smith said.

Many families will benefit from the 78,000 pounds of formula aid from Europe, but others will still be in need of specific types.

"I'm so happy for all of them but for Isla, it's not going to help, so the search is still on for us," Singleton said.

Dr. Smith also urges people not to hoard formula as that impacts other families in need.

She recommends talking to your pediatrician for samples and to reach out to friends and family to look for formula brands that could be available in their area.

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