WASHINGTON — On Friday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched its Fact Sheet: Helping Families Find Formula During the Infant Formula Shortage, which provides resources for families looking to find formula in their area.
The shortage, caused by supply chain issues, labor shortages and recalls, was further exacerbated after manufacturer Abbott Nutrition shut down in the wake of two infant deaths. Abbott says there is no link between the deaths and its formulas and says production would resume “within two weeks,” pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
The formula resource page includes hotlines to manufacturers like Gerber and Abbott, in addition to organizations like United Way and Feeding America.
Pressure has built on the Biden administration to address the issue in recent weeks, with Pres. Joe Biden meeting with retailers and manufacturers on Thursday to discuss increased distribution. HHS says manufacturers have ramped up production by up to 50% and that other actions, like cracking down on price gouging, are now in play.
The shortage has led to concerns that desperate parents will dilute or create their own formulas, both of which are not advised.
Dr. Catherine Mims, of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, told Nexstar’s KFOR that these types of recipes were common 40 or 50 years ago, only due to lack of options. Moreover, Mims said these concoctions can be dangerous to babies.
“The problem with condensed milk and with the recipe is the electrolyte balance and the water balance,” Mims said. “Unfortunately, babies under 6 months old, they have pretty immature kidneys and don’t handle water that well. Which is why you should not give any babies free water. As you’re making this recipe, if you get it wrong, you could be causing a lot of problems with that electrolyte balance in your baby.”
Meanwhile, retailers have been forced to impose purchase limits on supplies – if and when the items have been in stock.
Earlier this week, both CVS and Walgreens began capping baby formula purchases to three formula products per transaction. Wall Street Journal also reports both Target and Kroger are limiting online sale numbers.