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UDOH provides update on baby formula shortage

By Ashtyn Asay - | May 25, 2022

Ashtyn Asay, Daily Herald

Almost empty shelves at a Target in American Fork due to a baby formula shortage on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.

Supply chain shortages have been common in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent victim of this trend, baby formula, has hit families across the country and right in Utah.

According to a report from Datasembly, nationwide out-of-stock numbers for baby formula were at 43% for the week ending May 8. In a series of tweets Monday, the Utah Department of Health stated that it is trying to gain information on when more formulas will become available to residents.

“As we continue to follow the formula shortage, we are trying to learn everything we can about when more formula will be available,” reads a tweet from the organization. “We have learned that hypoallergenic formulas, which are some of the specialty formulas that are in the shortest supply, will be directed to hospitals, doctors’ offices, and pharmacies.”

Another tweet stated that the department has confidence in the Similac formulas that are more readily available in-store at this time and that if it is in store, it is likely safe for a child to consume — depending on their specific needs.

According to Mindy Buttars, a care coordinator for Utah Valley Pediatrics, many of the parents she sees have been frightened by the uncertainty of the baby formula shortage.

“It’s been kind of a panic for a lot of people because they’re going to the stores trying to find it, they can’t… so I think that’s been scary for people, kind of like ‘how do I feed my baby,'” Buttars said. “Our focus really has been getting the right information.”

Buttars shared several suggestions for parents struggling to feed their children during this time:

  • Enfamil Gentlease is currently the most challenging formula for parents to find. However, if an infant is over 4-6 months old, they can likely tolerate regular formula.
  • Enfamil Neuropro has the same milk proteins as breastmilk, so infants who Even infants that weren’t tolerating regular formula when they were younger can likely tolerate it now.
  • Families should use off-brand formulas such as Kirkland, Gerber, Baby’s Only, or Happy Baby if they can find them.
  • Amazon offers lesser-known brands with next-day delivery, though quantities are limited.
  • Utah Valley Pediatrics does its best to keep samples on hand. While not a supplier, they can help with a sample if families cannot locate formula elsewhere.
  • WIC allows parents to accumulate whatever they can find; a doctor’s prescription is not required.

Buttars also recommended that parents avoid using goats milk or online formula recipes to feed their babies, as these feeding methods have not been tested.

“They’re not tested, the ingredients, we don’t know how safe those are when we put them together and try to feed babies so we really try to discourage those kinds of things,” she said.

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