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Mom of premature baby shares formula shortage struggles

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — For Raven Gonzales, the constant struggle to find enough formula for her baby becomes more and more apparent with each passing day.

Her seven-month-old son, Theron, was born prematurely.

“He was born at 23 weeks gestation,” Gonzales said.

The current baby formula shortage nationwide is creating an additional challenge for many mothers with infants born prematurely, like Gonzales, whose son requires a specialized formula.

“Doctors even had told us that they’ve noticed that some of their patients who aren’t premature started getting on that formula because they weren’t able to find any,” Gonzales said.

On average, Gonzales spends at least 8 hours a week searching for formula. One of her longest trips resulted in her stopping by 15 different stores.

“One day, I think I spent a total of five hours looking for formula, and I was only able to find two bottles of it,” Gonzales said.

Despite pushes from state officials to expand the kinds of formula available through WIC (Gonzales is a member), Gonzales says those efforts come too little too late. Gonzales says the shortage left her no choice but to switch Theron’s formula.

Despite the approval to switch formulas from Theron’s doctor, the transition was a difficult one.

“He had a really bad reaction — he broke out in hives at first,” Gonzales said. “He can’t take breastmilk. We’ve switched the formula, can’t find the new formula, so what do we do next?”

Gonzales says she now questions whether or not she’ll have to switch her son’s formula a second time, potentially risking her son’s health in order for him to stay fed.

“Are we going to be able to put his little body through that again? I started crying because … I just knew how upsetting that was as a parent when you’ve come this far with your child, and then risking them having to be back in the hospital all because of a formula shortage,” Gonzales said.

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