Since the outbreak of COVID-19[feminine]there were important shortages infant formula in some stores, largely caused by supply chain issues, as well as a recent recall of several contaminated infant formulas.
As this unfortunate crisis continues to affect thousands of caregivers who need to feed their babies, the Mayo Clinic continues to offer advice on safe, short-term alternatives to patients.
Alternative formula options
For most infants, it is acceptable to switch to any available formula, including store brands, unless the infant is taking a specific heavily hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula, such as Elecare – no generic brand currently exists for this formula. If the infant requires specialized formula, the caregiver should contact the infant’s provider.
If caregivers cannot find infant formula near them, temporary alternatives include:
• If the caregiver can afford it, they can buy formula online until in-store shortages diminish. Check the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Approved List of Infant Formula Manufacturers. It is recommended to buy from recognized distributors and pharmacies rather than from individual sales or auction sites.
• Check reputable social media groups, such as “Formula Finder” on Facebook, as these groups are dedicated to infant feeding and infant formula, and members may have ideas for finding infant formula, including including donor breast milk. Be careful and be careful when sharing personal or financial information.
• Use informal community milk sharing from someone they know and trust. This is different from donor breast milk, in that the milk is not regulated or pasteurized.
• Use whole cow’s milk for infants 6 months and older for a limited time — about one to two weeks.
• Use formula beyond the use-by date as a short-term solution only, approximately one to two weeks maximum. This option is preferable to the absence of other alternative options available in the short term. If the formula is more than six months past its best before date, it should not be used as it may have lost some of its nutrients. Caregivers are urged to contact their infant’s healthcare team to discuss this as an option.
Caregivers and infants discharged from the Mayo Clinic after birth will receive resources and options for alternative infant formula.
Help is on the way
Several federal government actions are currently underway to help address the formula shortage in the United States, including:
• Relaxation of import rules for foreign manufacturers of infant formula.
• Air transport in European formula to the United States
• Invoke emergency federal authorization to prioritize US production.
• Abbott Nutrition restarted production at the Michigan infant formula plant which had been closed since February due to contamination, focusing first on specialty formulas – which are expected to launch by the 20th June – as well as Similac restarting production afterwards – the company says it will likely take six to eight weeks before they reach full production capacity.