Health experts share do’s and don’ts during baby formula shortage

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:59 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Since 1865 baby formula has been used to nourish babies.

“It matches the macronutrients of the sugar or the protein, the fat, of breast milk and the micronutrients as well,” said Dr. Kelsey Klaas, Mayo Clinic Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

However, finding formula has been a struggle for many caretakers as the national baby formula continues.

Health experts say certain feeding methods aren’t healthy for infants.

1) Don’t feed babies homemade formula

“In the short term contamination is the potential risk. Depending on where we’re looking I’ve seen some recipes that used unpasteurized milk products for example. Those are things that we should not be feeding infants, ever. Their immune systems aren’t as robust, and there is an increased risk of potentially significant severe infection,” Klaas said.

She said the health risk can go further with homemade formula.

“The next immediate risk with homemade formulas with other products as well such as using long-term cows milk or other non-human infant foods is that the balance of the different components of cows milk, of different ingredients that would go into a homemade formula, what called celluloid, so looking at the protein and sugar load but also all of the electrolytes that go into that, are not matched to what an infant’s kidneys can handle,” Klaas said.

She said that issue could cause seizures in infants.

2) Don’t dilute baby formula

“Not adding extra water to formula. Adding extra water to formula can cause nutritional imbalance and can lead to serious health problems. It’s best to always mix formulas according to the manufactures label or as your pediatrician had recommended,” said Wendy O’Leary, Olmsted County Women, Infant & Children (WIC) Services manager.

“The nutritional quantity or quality is much lower. They’re actually not getting enough qualities with that. But in the short-term again, even more potentially serious is this risk of electrolyte imbalance and the risk to health,” Klaas said.

3) Don’t order formulas from another country

“Those that are not FDA approved, we are not recommending for feeding,” Klaas said.

4) Don’t use evaporated milk

The Do’s:

1) Concentrated liquid formula or a Ready-to-use formula.

“That is absolutely acceptable and safe to use,” Klaas said.

2) Try switching to a generic formula brand.

3) Ask stores if a formula is located in a different part of the store.

“Stores may not put all of the product on the shelf. They may have it at customer service. They may have it at a certain register, so just because you’re not seeing it on the shelf does not mean it’s not available,” O’Leary said.

People who need help purchasing baby formula can apply to WIC services.

WIC can provide families with a money card that they can use to purchase formula at stores.

What about people who were raised without formula?

“I’m glad that those children did come out to be strong adults but then it goes into the question of, what were they fed? Because that answer is going to situationally very different,” Klaas said.

According to a journal in the National Library of Medicine,

Until the 19th-century animal milk was the most common feeding method after breast milk.

Multiple medical sources say infants cannot digest cow’s milk as easily as they digest breastmilk or baby formula.

Furthermore, cow’s milk does not contain enough of certain nutrients that babies under a year old need.

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