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Formula shortage has Canton mom worried for her newborn

Infant formula
Posted at 5:52 PM, Dec 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-10 00:50:02-05

CANTON, Ohio — For babies six months and younger, they need either formula or breast milk, but bare shelves have moms in Northeast Ohio worried.

As Emily Nielson rocks 2-month-old Braxton to sleep, one battle she never saw coming as a new mom was feeding her baby.

“So when he was born, I tried breastfeeding for about two weeks. Unfortunately, he had some latching issues, and I couldn’t breastfeed with them,” Emily continued, “So I had tried pumping instead, was not producing enough.”

After crossing pumping and breastfeeding off the list, formula was her only option. First, the original formula didn’t work.

“He seemed very cramping gassy,” said Emily.

What did work was the sensitive formula, but it couldn't be found anywhere.

“It's been a struggle. Ever since we started the sensitive formula. It's been very difficult to find. It's not on the shelves, which is a stressor for me and my husband,” said Emily.

She's not alone, the Ohio Women, Infants and Children program says they have been seeing the shortage for the past year.

“I think it still goes back to the shutdown of the Similac plant. There's been a year now back in December when they had the recall of the Similac formulas,” said Nikki Maffei, a Dietitian supervisor in Summit County.

The CDC also blames the broken, supply chain. Nikki tells News 5 they have expanded their formula options for moms and are checking with their vendors for supply updates.

“They tell us what the process that they're going through having 24-hour staff and making sure they're producing and their goal is to obviously get their product on the shelf at normal capacity,” said Nikki.

But for moms like Emily and her sweet child Braxton, it’s stressful.

“It's completely all gone. Like, you cannot find any basic generic sensitive formula out there,” said Emily.

They have gone as far as trying to get it in other states.

“I’ve had to reach out to family and friends out of state to see if they are able to ship some formula to us. It's gotten to that point, which is to me beyond pathetic,” said Emily.

Simply hoping, soon it'll be back in stock.

The FDA also commented on the shortage, releasing the following statement:

"The supply chain has gotten stronger with more products available to parents and caregivers. The FDA has been working with infant formula manufacturers to track the production and availability of infant formula and are seeing steady improvements in formula supply.

The FDA recognizes that while supplies are improving, there are still parents struggling to find formula or find their specific type of formula on store shelves. The agency understands their frustration and continue to do everything we can to make sure parents can get safe and nutritious infant formula whenever and wherever they need it.

We cannot release individual company information but we can say that overall infant formula production year-to-date is outpacing 2021 – before the Abbott recall. The “in-stock rate”, as reported by data provider IRI, hit a low of 67% in July, increased steadily in the following months, reached 80% in September, and has now held steady near 85% for the past 11 weeks. 

Although the reported in-stock rate has steadily increased and reaching levels close to those levels prior to the recall, the situation is not the same everywhere. Some smaller, independent retailers and those in rural areas in particular are still having challenges with stock rates.

The FDA is also in close touch with top retailers who continue to have supplies of formula on hand but may still lack all the sizes and varieties they once carried.

The agency recognizes the impact the formula shortages have had on parents, caregivers and the children and individuals who rely on these products. We are committed to implementing the necessary changes to help us avoid future supply shortages and ensure parents and caregivers have access to safe and nutritious infant formula whenever and wherever they need it.,"

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