(The Center Square) – Amid a national shortage in baby formula, safety and caution are being encouraged to Maryland families by a state pediatrics chapter.
“For most babies, it’s not dangerous because they can just try another formula,” Debbie Badawi, president of the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told The Center Square. “It’s an issue for babies with medical issues who need very specialized formulas. So, for those children, it’s much more of a problem.”
Badawi recommends that parents of healthy children seek out a comparable formula. However, for those whose babies have medical issues, she suggests consulting with a pediatrician.
“I believe, so far, some of the medical specialists have been able to work either with the formula company or to find appropriate substitutes for those babies,” she said.
While any parents using the formula for their children are impacted, it is worse for those with limited shopping and transportation options and those in lower socioeconomic strata, Badawi said.
“Families may have to go around to multiple stores, so if you have a car and you live in an area with lots of stores, that’s not too hard,” she said. “But if you rely on public transportation and you can’t afford higher prices for formula, that’s going to have a bigger impact.”
Badawi said that parents should resist the temptation to water down the formula because that can make babies very sick.
“They also shouldn’t be trying to make homemade formulas because that can be dangerous for the same reason that the recall happened in terms of contamination, or certainly for homemade formulas, making sure babies get what they need,” she said.
Older babies who are already eating some solid foods can substitute formula with whole milk from cows for a short period. Still, Badawi cautions that this is a short-term solution and should not be considered for younger infants.
To combat the shortage, Maryland’s WIC program obtained a waiver to provide a wider variety of brands, according to Badawi.
For the first week of May, 43% of baby formula supplies were out of stock in stores across the country, according to Datasembly, a retail data tracker.
Abbott Nutrition’s recent recall is one of the main causes of the dearth of the formula. The company produces Similac baby formula, along with other brands.
“It’s definitely gotten worse over the last couple of weeks,” Badawi said.
The Biden administration announced the Food and Drug Administration is considering loosening infant formula import restrictions to ease the shortage, CNBC reported.