baby formula shortage

Connecticut Mothers Feeling Impact of Baby Formula Shortage

Amid a shortage and recall on certain products, Connecticut mothers are struggling to find baby formula.

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It’s been a challenge for mothers nationwide to find to the formula they need to feed their newborn babies.

The problem is compounded by supply-chain challenges brought on by the pandemic and Abbott Nutrition, one of largest formula manufacturers in the country, recalling certain powdered formula brands on Feb. 17.

The recall was issued because of bacteria found at a facility in Sturgis, Michigan that made babies sick. Those who once relied on Similac, Alimentum and Elecare powders had to find an alternative.

But on Tuesday, nearly three months after the recall, the FDA approved some specialty products for families in desperate need.

The FDA told NBC Connecticut on Wednesday: "Our first and foremost priority is ensuring that any recalled product remains off the market and we're working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and manufacturers to ensure that parents have access to alternative, safe infant formula."

“It's been really hard to get your hands on any formula. You go into the stores and the shelves are completely bare,” said Alyssa Cercone of Milford.

Cercone said her three-month-old grew intolerant to an over-the-counter product and needed a prescription formula to meet his dietary needs. But with that on backorder, her options are slim.

"On the days that I'm low on formula, I have to supplement with a formula my son is not able to tolerate,” Cercone said.

Another woman from West Hartford spends her weekends searching store shelves for formula. She is now down to two out of the six cans her doctor prescribed.

"We should be worried at night, 'Oh is my baby breathing?' Not, 'How am I going to feed my baby in the morning?’” said Emily Salvador of West Hartford.

Feeling frustrated, Salvador shared her concerns on TikTok where she quickly gained support. Today, she had around 15,000 followers on the video-sharing app. Some of them are mothers who understand or experiencing her situation.

“Mothers on TikTok are messaging me, telling me they have cans left over that they’ll send me and pay for shipping because they feel bad. And moms praying for me, and moms asking me where to get formula,” Salvador said.

The shortage has forced Emily to find liquid formula, but she said she goes through them faster than the cans. With twenty bottles in her pantry, that is only enough to feed her baby for three weeks. They are also priced $11 to $15 a bottle.

"The big-box stores are probably going to be the hardest hit so try to shop small,” said Marisa Merlo, RN and Lactation Consultant at UConn Health.

Parents across Connecticut have been desperately searching for formula to feed their babies for months and the FDA is working with manufacturers to increase supplies. This is what local families are experiencing amid the shortage and what local medical experts advise.

Merlo also suggests looking at community pharmacies, local food banks or milk banks that provide donated breast milk. Connecticut participates with Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast, which sends most milk to neonatal care units across the state. It’s also available for mothers to purchase.

"That milk does run a significantly higher price than formula and it does provide a prescription from a provider,” Merlo said.

Merlo said the recent FDA announcement may be beneficial for some families, but she recommends seeking advice from a pediatrician or primary care doctor first.

"Number one, please don’t panic. There are ways to get your baby this nutrition. Definitely start with your providers. Start with your pediatricians,” Merlo said.

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