With a state of emergency now in effect in New Jersey for an ongoing shortage of baby formula, the state's Poison Control Center is warning against the use of what it calls unsafe substitutes for infant nutrition.

In a release Thursday the center, based out of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said online and social media suggestions that diluted or do-it-yourself, homemade formula recipes are safe are "misinformation."

"Commercial/manufactured infant formula and human breast milk contain essential micronutrients and vitamins babies need to have at each feeding," the release said.

The center listed almond, cow, and goat milk, rice drinks, protein shakes, and honey as examples of unsafe substitutes, along with homemade remedies and watered-down commercial formula, saying that such alternatives "can quickly lead to severe nutritional deficiency."

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Executive and medical director Diane Calello said in the release that substituting for baby formula can have "devastating results" that are "dangerous and potentially life-threatening."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said that three separate cases of infants being fed homemade formula led to low calcium levels and vitamin D-deficient rickets, and that diluted formula could cause electrolyte imbalances or brain swelling.

The New Jersey Poison Control Center pointed to recent guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics for parents to use on an emergency basis only, if they cannot locate baby formula, and recommended consulting a baby's pediatrician before any emergency decisions are made.

In case of illness brought on by diluted or DIY formula, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

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