Navigating the Infant Formula Shortage

For infants who are not breastfed, formula is crucial, but it’s been a challenge lately for some parents to get their hands on it. In February, Abbott agreed to a recall of their powdered infant formulas, and the Food and Drug Administration announced an investigation into bacterial infections in infants. This recall and other factors have produced an infant formula shortage.

“During the first year, babies triple their birth weight,” said Queen Taliaferro, clinical dietitian manager at Baptist Women’s Hospital and Baptist Children’s Hospital. “To grow, babies need their supply of nutrients, more so than any other time of their lives.”

According to Taliaferro, the hospital has a good supply of formula, but some powdered formulas are not available due to the recall.

“With some of the more specialized formulas, such as powder-form Alimentum, EleCare and Similac Sensitive, we’ve made formula substitutions. We have Alimentum and Similac formulas in liquid form, but some metabolic products that are only in powder form, like EleCare and Similac PM 60/40, are not available currently,” noted Taliaferro.

She says that Abbott is now filling doctor’s orders via request for metabolic patients who require EleCare and Similac PM 60/40. After the order is received by Abbott, the company sends the formula directly to the patient’s home.

Taliaferro encourages providers to use the NASPGHAN (North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition) Tool for managing infants and children affected by the formula shortage and recall. Click here to access the NASPGHAN Tool, which lists the recalled formula and the comparable formula.

Abbott is currently chartering flights from Ireland to bring over certified formula products, and the FDA is taking actions to increase baby formula imports, but relief may still be weeks away.

“With the current information, it’s anticipated that the Abbott powdered products of Alimentum, EleCare, Similac Advance and Similac Sensitive will be available in the next 10 weeks,” said Taliaferro.

It’s important for parents to mix formula according to directions and ensure that no recalled product is used. While recalled formula is not currently being sold, there may be some in homes.

The FDA has more information on this recall: Powdered Infant Formula Recall. Parents are also encouraged to check the Abbot recall website.

For more tips for parents, visit our recent article on the Baptist Better Health blog, “Switching baby formulas can help parents through the infant formula shortage.”