What’s behind formula shortage in South Florida and nationwide?

Newborn infant feeds on a bottle of baby formula while being held by her mother.
Newborn infant feeds on a bottle of baby formula while being held by her mother.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 4:51 PM EDT
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Baby formula is quickly disappearing from South Florida store shelves, and parents are now fighting an uphill battle for their babies’ health.

Babies like Maliah drink formula every day. But lately, when her mom Liz has gone to the store, she has left empty-handed.

"I spent two days looking for formula for her and no store, pharmacy, nothing had anything available for her," Liz said.

Industry experts said coronavirus-related shutdowns greatly impacted the supply chain for baby formula.

There was also a massive recall of Similac formula back in February. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also shut down a manufacturing plant in Michigan after five babies reportedly came down with bacterial infections.

It's like searching for a needle in a haystack. Most new moms said they didn't think feeding their newborn would be the hardest part of their job. But a local pantry is stacked, literally, helping local families keep their babies fed and healthy.

At the Basics for Babies Emergency Pantry at the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County, families are able to grab what they need on a monthly basis.

But as the hunt for formula continues, pediatricians said you should consult with them first before switching brands and parents should definitely not make their own.

"That is dangerous, very dangerous to do. And they should not water down the formula for the same reason, that’s dangerous to do," said Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine with Palm Beach Pediatrics.

Fox-Levine said the nutrients from these formulas are very important.

"Nutritionally this is the best supplement for them until they are of age for brain development and their growth and their overall development," Fox-Levine said.

Now parents are forced to wait and hope.

"You don’t know if you’re going to find the formula for your child, and if you don’t find it, what will you do?" Liz said.

Experts said manufacturers are aware of the problem and they are ramping up production. But it could still take several weeks before it gets easier for parents to easily find formula.

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