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‘What am I going to feed my child?’: Baby formula recall presents challenge for Charlotte mom

CHARLOTTE — The FDA reports one salmonella illness is no longer associated with its investigation into a baby formula’s production. But the recall on Abbot’s Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare products remains, and it’s been hard on a lot of families.

A 9-year-old girl in east Charlotte is still transitioning to a new formula and faces daily challenges. Just like any 9-year-old kid, Ella loves the silly stuff. She’s non-verbal and has cerebral palsy. While she likes to have fun, much of her day is spent eating, but not like you’d think.

Her mom, Becca Smoot, makes sure Ella is fed a mix of specialty formulas through a G-tube every two hours. It’s a process Smoot has done since Ella was born. Her daughter was born at 25 weeks, weighing just 1 pound, 2 ounces. She developed a condition that impacted her gut.

Smoot said doctors acted quickly to save Ella’s life.

“She did survive the surgery, she did lose a lot of her bowel,” Smoot said. “That’s led to complications, lifelong.”

Things just got a little bit more complicated. Three weeks ago, Smoot found out one of Ella’s specialty formulas -- EleCare Junior -- was recalled after the FDA and other agencies investigated infant illness related to a germ that may be connected to Abbott’s Michigan facility.

“I opened Facebook, scrolled and saw it, and then I was like, ‘oh what am I going to feed my child in the morning,’” Smoot said. “You just don’t change the feeding routine of a child with such a sensitive GI system.”

Smoot said doctors recommended Ella switch to Neocate, so she went online and found a mom in Concord who had it.

“She gave me a good month’s supply,” Smoot said. “The question is, what do we do in the middle of this transition once EleCare is back and safe to use again?”

The Abbott recall has impacted thousands of families across the country. An Atrium Health doctor told Channel 9 that kids who switch formulas can spit up more, or have stool changes. It can take up to two weeks to transition. For Ella, it’s longer -- she’s slowly adjusting.

“I could tell the adjustment every time we went up a scoop. She has a little bit more output that day,” Smoot said. “We are definitely dependent on the safety of what comes out of these companies for our child’s health.”

The FDA is working with Abbott nutrition to prevent further recalls and resume production at the Michigan facility again.

(WATCH BELOW: More Similac baby formula added to recall list)

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