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Biden Takes Action to Ease Baby Formula Shortage

Recall of domestic baby formula brands caused severe shortage

 

Biden Administration will expedite importation of international baby formula brands to ease shortage within a few weeks

What caused the shortage?

Abbott Laboratories, which makes baby food and formula, shut its manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan, in February following a federal investigation after it recalled three baby-formula products amid reports of infant illness. The recall has caused a massive shortage in baby formula across the United States. 

 

During the week starting 24 April, 40% of baby formula was out of stock in more than 11,000 stores across the country. In at least six states, more than half of all available baby formula in stores was sold out during the same time period.

 

Abbott Laboratories has said that it could take six to eight weeks for its products to reach shelves following a widespread recall, exacerbating a shortage of baby formula.

What’s being done?

Fortunately for parents around the country, t​he U.S. baby formula shortage should improve dramatically in coming weeks as the Biden Administration takes action to allow manufacturers to import baby formula and restock the shelves. 

 

The Biden Administration is working with the Food and Drug Administration to streamline the review and approval process for international baby formula brands and get them on American shelves in a safe manner within a few weeks. 

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In another part of that effort, the Biden Administration partnered with the U.S. military for Operation "Fly Formula" which imported 39 tons of formula to the United States from Europe.  

 

Previously, the $4 billion annual U.S. baby formula market has been dominated by domestic producers, with imports limited and subject to high tariffs.

9 Republicans voted no to allowing low-income families to use WIC benefits to buy baby formula 

Nine Republicans in the House of Representatives have voted against a bill that aims to facilitate the purchase of baby formula for those on low-income federal support programs.

 

  • Andy Biggs, AZ

  • Lauren Boebert, CO

  • Matt Gaetz, FL

  • Louie Gohmert, TX

  • Paul Gosar, AZ

  • Marjorie Taylor Greene, GA

  • Clay Higgins, LA

  • Thomas Massie, KY

  • Chip Roy, TX

The Access to Baby Formula Act, also known as H.R. 7791, would allow low-income women to buy more baby formula through the federal Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program. It received a 414-9 bipartisan support in a House vote on Wednesday amid the formula shortage crisis in the country. Ultimately, the bill passed the House, meaning relief for American families is on the way. 

Resources for parents looking for formula

  •  Shop beyond the grocery store

    • Empty grocery store shelves may cause a sense of panic, but there are other places to buy formula. You may have better luck at convenience store chains, local pharmacies and baby specialty stores in your area.

    • Manufacturer websites often have information on where to find stock, so you can usually even check before you make the drive.

    • If all else fails, you can also order infant formula directly from the manufacturer.

  • Call your pediatrician for help 

    • Many times pediatricians will have knowledge about where you can find baby formula in your area. 

  • Change formula brands

    • It's important to consult your pediatrician about how to make the transition easier on your baby's digestive system, but that doesn't mean that transitioning to another brand isn't an option to explore. 

  • Introducing solid foods to babies over six months

    • You should continue feeding with formula until your baby turns 1 year old, but if your child is over six months you can start to supplement nutrition with some solids.

    • The CDC recommends that you introduce one solid at a time to monitor for food intolerance and allergies. A good place to start is with fortified cereal, mashed bananas or avocado. 

  • Breast milk banks

    • Formula or your own breast milk isn't the only option for your baby. There are breast milk banks that can provide safe, pasteurized breast milk for your baby.

  • Don’t dilute formula

    • If you're running low on supply, you may be tempted to dilute the formula you have on hand. Barsella cautions caregivers to never dilute breast milk.

    • Extra water can be dangerous to babies. Diluting formula or breastmilk can interfere with an infant's ability to absorb nutrients. This can cause seizures, brain damage and—in extreme cases—death.

  • Don’t substitute another milk 

    • While it may be tempting to try goat milk or other milk alternatives in place of baby formula, know that—unless your child is old enough to drink cow's milk and you are looking for an alternative—it's not considered safe to swap cow or goat milk for formula.