NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — It’s been months since the baby formula shortage started.
The Abbott Nutrition plant in Sturgis Michigan closed in March after it recalled various products in February. Two infants died from a rare bacterial infection after consuming formula made in the plant. It then shut down production while the Food and Drug Administration investigated.
Abbott resumed production of some of its formulas in early June, but it could still be weeks before parents see formula shelves fully stocked.
“It’s a little scary not knowing where we’re going to get his formula from,” said Abi Davis, a mom in Siloam Springs.
She said she first started to notice back in April that the formula she needs for five-month-old Justin wasn’t on the shelves anymore. Justin was born early and has special dietary needs as he grows.
“His pediatrician wanted us to try soy formula on him,” she said. “It’s getting harder and harder to find even the soy formula in the store.”
She regularly checks both Walmart stores in Siloam Springs.
“A lot of times when I go there is no formula, not the kind that we’re needing,” she said. “It’s just getting really it’s getting really difficult especially being in a small town. You’re having to travel to find formula and you’re not guaranteed to get it when you get there.”
Christina Metcalf is a Nurse Practitioner for Mercy’s family medicine clinic in Greenwood. She’s had a few patients come in who haven’t been able to find the formula they need, but they’ve been able to find suitable alternatives. However, she said switching a baby’s formula isn’t always easy, or possible.
“When you start messing with that, you deal with either diarrhea or constipation or excessive gas, fussiness all of those things, which makes it really miserable for baby, miserable for mom,” she said.
So why don’t these moms just breastfeed?
“Some women just do not produce enough milk, and so they start off breastfeeding, the baby’s not gaining weight. Then they are told to supplement with some formula,” she said. “The other big thing that people don’t understand is sometimes moms are on medicine that will process through their breast milk that’s not safe for babies.”
Davis was able to breastfeed Justin for about a month before she had to stop.
“I went through two months of chemo,” she said. “So in that time, I wasn’t able to breastfeed. In our situation, it was impossible for us.”
She’s thankful for her family, who keep an eye out for her when they shop at their local stores.
“We’re lucky to have friends and family from around the Rogers, Bentonville area, so they’ve been able to find more for us,” she said.
Metcalf is urging parents to keep persevering.
“Just keep searching,” she said. “There are alternatives that you can find.”
While there are alternatives, she said you don’t want to dilute the formula to make it last longer. That’s because each prescribed scoop has a certain amount of multivitamins that are necessary for a baby’s development. Check out the guide below from Mercy about what alternatives work best for your baby’s formula.