Baby formula shortage leaves parents searching for alternatives, some of which, could be dangerous

JOPLIN/NEOSHO, Mo. – Baby formula maker Abbott says it’s reached a deal with regulators to restart production at its factory which is tied to the formula shortage nationwide. Despite that news, it’ll still take weeks to get formula to store shelves.

That shortage is causing parents to look for alternatives and some of those alternatives, could be dangerous.

Store shelves are bare as the baby formula shortage continues. While there’s good news on the horizon, right now, parents are looking for alternatives to feed their babies. Social media, has been playing a part in suggesting alternatives, which Dr. Beth Garrett, a Pediatrician with Freeman Health System says can be dangerous. One of the things coming up on social media, is people selling breast milk. Dr. Garrett says don’t buy that, even if it’s from someone you know. “That breast milk may contain viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, CMV, and can make your baby sick.”

Dr. Garrett says she’s seen a couple of different recipes floating around online for making your own formula at home, which is something else you need to avoid. “When we make our own formula based off of those old time recipes, we are really going to cause problems with electrolytes that can lead to seizures, hospitalizations, make baby very sick.”

Another thing to avoid, goat’s milk. “Goats milk is low in a lot of key, essential vitamins like foliate, B vitamins, it’s also very high in sodium and again that could lead to electrolyte abnormalities and hospitalization and seizures, it can lead to some very severe anemias and so it is not safe to feed your babies goats milk.”

Dr. Garrett says cow’s milk is acceptable, but you need to limit it to one, maybe two feedings, as it can cause it’s own set of problems. “The reason we don’t want to stay on cows milk is because it is deficient in iron and also it can cause some micro bleeding in the colon over time, which increases the iron deficiency and babies get pretty anemic if they stay on cows milk.”

Another issue has been WIC vouchers. WIC participants are limited to what the voucher is approved for, which Rebecca Laird with the Newton County Health Department says, has changed. “The FDA moved pretty quickly to allow the state WIC programs to start offering alternative sizes and alternative brands.”

Dr. Garrett encourages you, where possible, to consider alternative formula brands, until the shortage is resolved.

As Laird mentioned, WIC programs are now able to offer different formulas during the shortage. The State of Missouri has composed a list of those alternatives, which Laird says is a great resource even for non-WIC parents.

Those alternatives are available at the following links:

Missouri WIC implements second infant formula waiver from the USDA

Missouri WIC implements third infant formula waiver from the USDA