Gorrell said the most important is the zinc supplement, which helps to promote wound healing and skin development. It's especially important for premature babies, whose skin can be fragile.
"These minerals are all needed for a body to do what it needs to do every day," Gorrell said.
Long-term effects for babies who need the medication but don't receive it include the lack of ability to heal wounds and reproduce skin. There could be longer-term ramifications to the immune system as well, Gorrell said.
As a level-three NICU and the state's only freestanding women and children's hospital, CAMC treats the sickest of the sick babies in the area, she said. The 28-bed intensive care unit is full nearly every day.
In 2011, 401 babies had been through the NICU, which takes newborns from all over southern West Virginia, said CAMC spokesman Dale Witte.
Thomas Memorial Hospital hasn't had to use this particular combination of trace elements, said Paige Johnson, director of marketing and public relations.
At Wednesday's Board of Trustees meeting, Ed Welch, chairman of CAMC's quality committee, brought the issue to the table, noting the severity of the situation.
"One problem we were alerted to was trace elements are given to the neonatal population at Women and Children's," Welch said. "These trace elements are not as available as they were before. So we are now rationing those elements as to who can receive them. The forecast is that sometime this year, they may disappear altogether."
And infants who need these treatments and cannot receive these treatments have long-term lasting negative consequences.
"This obviously is not a CAMC problem; this is a national problem that we do not have sufficient medication available or being produced for us to be able to take care of this population," he said.
For more information on current drug shortages, visit www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/DrugShortages/ucm314743.htm. For more information on CAMC, visit www.camc.org/.