Information as of 5/19/22
The ongoing baby formula shortage has been a source of stress and confusion for many parents. Dr. Sarah Adams answers some common questions parents are having about the shortage.
What should I do if I can’t find formula?
Talk to your pediatrician and ask if they can get you formula from the local formula representative or local charities. You can also check with local WIC office or SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Try a different brand of formula that you’ve been giving your baby, but is in the same family of formulas. Maybe you want to stick with the same manufacturer because you know that the baby tolerates it very well, but maybe you can use a different type. For example, if you’re using a regular formula, maybe the one for sensitive tummies, for example, might be an ok option.
For most babies it is ok to switch to any available formula, including store brands. Unless your baby is on a specific hypoallergenic formula please talk to your pediatrician.
Smaller stores or pharmacies may not be out of their supply. Check with friends or on social media for any information on where others have found formula. Check online, purchase only from well recognized distributors or pharmacies rather than individually sold or on auction site. Do not buy formula imported from overseas as they are not FDA regulated.
Consider changing to concentrate or ready to feed formula, which may be more readily available. Do not add more water or make your own formula. This can lead to severe complications due to the imbalance of nutrition, which may lead to problems in growth, development and even infant death. Also, do not use milk or protein or plant-based milk. They do not have the nutrition needed for a baby 0 – 12 months of age.
Is it safe to drink formula from the Abbott facility that was closed due to the recall?
You should be 100% sure the formula you have is not on the recall list and/or expired. You should contact your pediatrician with the exact information of the formula to verify if it is ok to use.
Are there nutritional differences in formula produced in the U.S. versus Europe?
Both U.S. and European formulas are required to closely mimic the composition of breastmilk. They are regulated to insure the maximum and minimum quantity of calories, macronutrients and micronutrients. European formulas have stricter guidelines of what nutritional sources can be used. EU formulas also have required exclusions and inclusions. Some examples include allowable sources for carbohydrates. EU formula is not allowed to use corn syrup or corn syrup solids used in U.S. formulas. They are allowed to use goat milk as the base for some formulas. It is important to note that EU formula is divided into stages based on the infants age in months and it is mixed differently. Both U.S. and EU formulas contain an essential fatty acid called DHA, which is known to promote brain health. In addition, some formulas contain probiotics.
Is there an organization like the FDA that oversees the production of European formulas?
The European Commission sets requirements for nutritional compositions, food safety and labeling for infant formula and other “first foods” across Europe. Although there are some differences between the two regulating agencies, the European Commission is most similar to the Food and Drug Administration. Both agencies are responsible for providing guidance and issuing approvals before an infant formula can be sold in its respective country.
What should I know about ordering formula from other countries?
It is very important to know where you are ordering the formula and that it is coming directly from an EU commission-regulated source and company. If you have any questions, I recommend contacting your pediatrician to make sure the formula closely matches what your infant is taking at present time.
Be sure you are going to use an European formula that has been approved by the European Commission. If using organic formula, be sure it is certified by Demeter or Bioland. These certifications go above and beyond the EU commission to make sure the formula meets the organic requirements. Overall, it is safe to use EU formula provided they are from well-known, reputable companies regulated as previously mentioned.
Find additional resources on Akron Children’s website.