JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Parents across the country are scrambling to find baby formula and data shows it’s getting worse.
News4JAX found that in Jacksonville there’s some supply, but also a lot of empty shelf space.
Local parents said they haven’t been able to find the formula their babies need anywhere, and they’re getting desperate. Some are turning to other parents on social media to try to see what they can find.
Nicole Brown said the baby formula her five-month-old son needs has vanished from store shelves.
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“An entire month was nothing…nothing online, nothing in stores nearby,” Brown said. “Luckily, I stocked up last time. So today when I opened my last can that kind of lit my fire a little bit.”
According to retail analytics company Datasembly, about 31% of baby formula was out of stock in April because of inflation, supply chain issues, and recalls. And for families whose options are further limited by allergies — the situation is especially precarious.
Ashleigh Olsen said her nine-month-old is limited to a specific formula she orders straight from the manufacturer, and there’s no word on when it will be available again.
“I can get Amazon delivered to my door. But I cannot get food for my child, I cannot feed my son,” Olsen said.
According to Datasembly, the numbers suggest the supply of baby formula will continue to get worse.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking,” Olsen said.
Experts said diluting baby formula doesn’t provide the same nutrition.
“If you’ve already had a baby and it’s been having formula — I don’t encourage you to split it with water if you can help it,” Jamie Neal, founder of Life Tree Women Care, said.
The former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on nutrition said if the formula a baby is used to isn’t available, families are going to have to find the closest alternative.
Olsen said for her that could mean exposing her son to a potential allergic reaction. Another parent said they’ve had to change their formulas and it causes their baby to throw up every time he eats.
In response to News4JAX’s question on when formula supplies might increase, an FDA spokesperson said, “We continue discussions with all infant formula manufacturers and will consider all tools available to support the supply of infant formula products.”
“The FDA has been meeting with several infant formula manufacturers on a weekly basis to try to increase capacity to produce specialty and metabolic products overall,” an FDA spokesperson said.
Abbott Nutrition, which produces Similac, did not respond to News4JAX’s questions about when their formula supplies might increase, instead referring us to the Infant Nutrition Council of America.
Formula producer Enfamil provided the following statement:
At Enfamil, we are dedicated to giving the millions of babies and toddlers that rely on our formulas the best start in life. We are aware that some parents are having trouble finding their favorite baby formula products in their preferred store.
The market has been impacted by a recall by another infant formula manufacturer. We have been optimizing our efforts to address any issues as fast as possible and meet the needs of all babies who rely on our formula.
The FDA has also released the following information:
· Do not use recalled Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered infant formulas produced in in the Abbott Nutrition facility in Sturgis, Michigan.
· Parents and caregivers also should never dilute infant formula. Consumers also should avoid buying formula online that comes from outside the U.S., as it has the potential to be counterfeit.
· If your regular formula is not available, contact your child’s health care provider for recommendations on changing feeding practices.
· The Abbott Nutrition facility that produces recalled infant formulas also produces metabolic and other medical specialty infant formulas for infants with inborn errors of metabolism and other medical needs, as well as medical foods.
· The FDA wants to be sure that parents and caregivers who use these specialty products are aware that there may be some risk of Cronobacter contamination. If possible, parents and caregivers should work with their medical provider to consider whether comparable products may be appropriate. If comparable alternative products are not available or appropriate, parents and caregivers should take extra care to follow the CDC’s updated advice for parents on how to reduce the risk of Cronobacter contamination of formula during preparation of powdered product, whether that contamination comes from the product itself or from other contamination sources in the home.
· For the metabolic products being released on a case-by-case basis, as stated in our advisory, it is important for parents and caregivers to understand that any products released on a case-by-case basis at this time were made at Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, MI, facility, and that the processes, procedures and conditions that the FDA observed during its inspection of the Sturgis, MI production facility from Jan. 31-March 3, raise concerns that powdered infant formula produced at this facility prior to the FDA’s inspection carry a risk of contamination. Therefore, those seeking access should consult with their healthcare provider in considering whether the benefit of consuming such product outweighs the potential risk of bacterial infection in the user’s particular circumstances.
· For individuals needing urgent, life-sustaining supplies of the specialty and metabolic formulas , patients and caregivers seeking access to these products should contact Abbott directly to request that a product be made available to them by calling 1-800-881-0876.
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