Drug shortages worsened by Hurricane Maria’s devastation on Puerto Rico is now threatening some of the most tiny and vulnerable patients in the U.S. — premature babies. Power outages caused by the hurricane are still hitting production of saline solution, one of the most widely used medical supplies. But they’re also causing bottlenecks in the supply of amino acids used to feed very ill patients, including preemies, the Food and Drug Administration says. “It’s devastating for pediatrics and babies because hospitals were telling us they were down to just a few days’ supply and they were really getting extremely concerned,” said Captain Valerie Jensen, Associate Director of the Drug Shortages Program in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Yesterday we announced we were going to have a pediatric formulation imported.” Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and patients who are unable to eat or to be fed via stomach tube need infusions of various combinations, depending on their nutrition needs. Power outages in Puerto Rico are causing bottlenecks in the supply of amino acids used to feed very ill patients, including premature babies in the U.S. IvanJekic / Getty Images/iStockphoto The product must be especially pure for newborns, who are sensitive to contaminants such as aluminum. “This is their protein source. It is absolutely critical,” Jensen told NBC News. As with saline, there had been disruptions to the supply of amino acids, the FDA said. The main supplier of saline, Baxter, is also a major supplier of amino acid medical products to the U.S. market. And some of its main facilities are in Puerto Rico. “In order to help mitigate this shortage, the FDA has worked with Baxter to facilitate the temporary importation of amino acids for pediatric and adult formulations of IV amino acids from Baxter facilities in the United Kingdom and Italy,” FDA director Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. The FDA has also made deals with the government in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, to make sure that medical manufacturers get their electricity restored first. Months after Maria hit, power has only been restored to about half the island. “We’re