Physicians issue warnings to parents amid baby formula shortage

Physicians are urging parents not to dilute baby formula amid an ongoing shortage of the product. 

Parents around the country have found themselves driving hours to locate formula and feeding their children fewer ounces in hopes of avoiding leftovers as they deal with the repercussions of the shortage, CBS News reported May 11. 

"Our biggest fear is that parents dilute the formula, and that is a big no-no," said Dyan Hes, MD, medical director at Gramercy Pediatrics in New York City. "Diluted formula gives too little calories. When you dilute it, you're giving your baby less energy, less calories," she told CBS News. 

Physicians have recommended parents purchase a different brand if their first choice isn't available. 

"I think this is such a challenging problem for families," Gigi Chawla, MD, chief of general pediatrics at Children's Minnesota in St. Paul, told local ABC affiliate KSTP. "Most of the formulas have essentially the same composition and can be readily switched back and forth. It is not our first choice, our first preference, but it is far better than any of the options for babies." 

Dr. Chawla also warned against substituting other kinds of milk for formula or trying to make formula. 

"Infant formula is highly specialized," she said. "You are not as an individual able to match the right calories, the right nutrients that babies really need in order to grow and thrive. We really encourage our parents to reach out for help when you can't find formula." 

Nationwide out-of-stock rates for baby formula have been rising since November. The latest estimates show 40 percent of the supply is out of stock, fueled by supply chain issues and February recalls from Abbott, which manufactures Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, CBS reports.

The FDA is working with manufacturers to help increase production of formula, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a May 9 news conference.

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