Doctors offer resources amid nationwide formula shortage
The interview posted above is from SDPB's daily public affairs show, In the Moment with Lori Walsh.
With the recent baby formula shortage sweeping across the nation, local physicians are advising parents to reach out to their doctors to learn what options are available to them.
Jennifer Haggar is a a pediatrician with Sanford Health.
“These infants have to have a healthy and safe option to eat, and so if a family is struggling to find what they need, we have tools and the ability to help them get what their child needs,” Haggar said.
Parents have struggled to find formula — especially hypoallergenic ones for children with milk allergies — since the shutdown of the largest formula plant in the U.S. in February.
Abbott Nutrition closed its Sturgis, Michigan, plant and issued a voluntary recall after four infants contracted bacterial infections from its products.
Additionally, the U.S. receives almost no imported baby formula because of high tariffs and strict FDA regulations, limiting parents’ option even further.
Haggar said pediatricians and other physicians have various resources, samples, and other information they can offer to parents struggling to find ways to feed their infants.
She also cautioned against diluting formula, attempting to make formula and underfeeding infants. These could risk the baby’s health and deprive them of necessary nutrition.
“Anything other than an approved infant formula, it’s hard to make sure it’s safe,” Haggar said. “The nutritional needs of an infant are really specific, and these needs help them develop their brain. They help them grow to be healthy children and adults.”
President Joe Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act in response to the shortages. This will compel suppliers of key formula ingredients to prioritize formula manufacturers ahead of other buyers.
He also authorized Air Force planes to deliver formula from Europe to help supplement the shortages, calling the order “Operation Fly Formula.”
The first shipment, containing hypoallergenic products, landed Sunday in Indianapolis with enough formula to fill 500,000 bottles with 8 ounces apiece. Another shipment is expected later this week.