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. families are turning to other options to feed their babies, like milk banks.
Susan Urbanski is the program manager from the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.
“We collect milk from moms who have a surplus, we test it, pasteurize it, and we get it back out to patients in need. 80% goes to hospital NICUs throughout Wisconsin and Illinois. The remaining 20% is available for families at home,” she said.
While new requests for milk have increased at the milk bank. Urbanski said donations have also gone up — giving some babies an option as the shortage continues.
“We do require a prescription from the baby’s healthcare provider for anything over the first 10 bottles of milk. For families who have short term need, we have dispensaries out in the community where they can access just a few bottles to act as a bridge,” she said.
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.