JOSH BOOK and PJSC ITAN-ROBB – ASSOCIATED PRESS
Washington (AP) – Deficiency of infant formula in the United States forces parents to share, sell and offer each other leftovers like President Joe Biden talked to manufacturers and retailers on Thursday about the plight of families.
The president discussed with executives Mead Johnson and Gerber how they can increase production and how his administration can help, and talked with leaders Walmart and Target about how to replenish shelves and eliminate regional disparities in access to the formula, the White House said.
The administration plans to monitor possible price increases and work with trading partners in Mexico, Chile, Ireland and the Netherlands on imports, despite the fact that 98% of baby formulas are produced domestically.
The problem is the result of supply chain failures and safety recalls, and has had a cascade of consequences: retailers are restricting what customers can buy, and doctors and health professionals are urging parents to turn to food banks or doctors’ offices, in addition to warnings against reducing the formula. to stretch stocks or using online DIY recipes.
The shortage is especially felt by low-income families after the withdrawal of Abbott formula makers due to infection problems. The recall will destroy many of the brands covered by WIC, a federal program such as food stamps that cater to women, babies and children, although the program now allows brand substitutes. The Biden administration is working with states to make it easier for WIC recipients to buy formulas of various sizes that may not currently apply to their payouts.
Parents use social media to close supply gaps.
Ashley Maddox, a 31-year-old mother of two from San Diego, set up a Facebook group on Wednesday after failing to find a formula for her 5-month-old son Cole at the Navy-based commissioner.
“I contacted the girl in my group and she had seven cans of the mixture I needed that just sat in her house that her child no longer needed,” she said. “So I left, it was about a 20 minute drive, picked it up and paid her. It was a miracle. “
She said that there is already a stigma for not breastfeeding, and that the group has become supportive. “It’s scary not to have that formula,” she said.
Jennifer Kersey, 36, of Cheshire, Connecticut, said she finished her last formula jar for her 7-month-old son Blake Kersey Jr. before anyone saw her post on Facebook and came up with several sample cans.
“At first I started to panic,” she said. “But I believe in the Lord, so I said, ‘God, I know you’ll provide for me,’ and I just started asking people, ‘Hey, do you have that formula?’
She said she and other members of the group help each other, find stores that may have formula, and deliver it to mothers who need it.
Kimberly Anderson, 34, of Hartford County, Maryland, said her 7-and-a-half-month-old son is adopting a prescription formula that is almost impossible to find locally. She turned to social media and said people in Utah and Boston had found the formula she paid for shipping.
“They say you need a village to raise a child,” she said. “I knew little about my village covering the entire U.S. when I approached friends, family about their zip codes so I could check their local Walmart so they could ship directly to me.”
28-year-old Erica Thompson, a mother of three from Wallingford, Connecticut, said she has become almost full-time to track the hypoallergenic formula her 3 1/2-month-old daughter Everly needs. She said friends abroad were also looking for her and were sending banks if they found them. She reached for one small sample jar, which she said could last another couple of days.
“You can travel everywhere – countless cities, shops, Amazon, online,” she said. “Honestly, it hurts.”
She said her body is unable to produce enough milk, but she doesn’t need to explain it to people. “It’s not our fault,” she said.
Shortages of basic commodities have been a problem since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Access to medical supplies, computer chips, household appliances, cars and other goods has damaged closed factories and virus outbreaks, as well as storms and other climatic events.
Dr. Naunit Hundal, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital, said she and other pediatricians had struggled with formula deficiency for months.
“It’s driving our clinical practice right now,” she said. “I am surprised that people are talking about it more and more now. We have been fighting this since February. It’s like putting out a fire every day. “
Formula has stopped issuing samples that it could pass on to parents, Newnet said. Supply is still very volatile, and she advises new parents to talk to their pediatricians to find out if there are other brands of formula that they can safely give to their newborns.
Security revocation exacerbated the problem.
The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers on Feb. 17 to avoid some baby powder mixes from Sturgis, Michigan.an institution led by Abbott Nutrition, which then initiated a voluntary recall. According to results published in March by federal safety inspectors, Abbott did not maintain sanitary conditions and procedures at the plant.
The FDA began its investigation after four infants contracted a rare bacterial infection after consuming a mixture made in the factory. All four were hospitalized, two died. The Chicago-based Abbott company said “there is no evidence of a link between our mixtures and these childhood diseases.” Samples of bacteria collected from infants did not match what was found at the company’s factory, Abbott noted.
Ebat said that pending FDA approval, “we can restart the site in two weeks.” The company will start with the production of EleCare, Alimentum and metabolic formulas, and then will start the production of Similac and other formulas. After the start of production of baby formula will take six to eight weeks to appear on the shelves.
Eaton-Robb reported from Columbia, Connecticut. Associated Press authors Mike Catalini of Trenton, New Jersey, and Steve LeBlanc of Boston contributed to this report.
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