“Please help me”: a nationwide shortage of children’s formulas is getting worse

Ashley Hernandez’s favorite infant formula maker for her two girls said it was out of stock on her website. The listings on eBay showed she would cost her up to $ 120 for a single can. So when she found an online vendor offering 10 cans for $ 40 each, she expressed her despair about her.

“I have two children,” began her message Ms. Hernandez, 35, of Dallas. “I can not find. I can buy this today. I can pay in cash. “

Parents across the country are struggling to keep up with a nationwide shortage of infant formula, a problem compounded by a recent one recalled by Abbott Nutrition, a baby food manufacturer. The recall came after at least four children were hospitalized with bacterial infections and two died after consuming its products, the US Food and Drug Administration She said.

“We know our recent recall has caused additional stress and anxiety in an already difficult situation of global supply shortages,” Abbott said in a statement. statements last month. “We are working hard to help moms, dads and caregivers get the high-quality nutrition they need for their babies.”

Now, several major retailers keen to preserve inventory are limiting the amount of infant formula their customers can purchase.

The CVS pharmacy chain said in a statement that “following supplier challenges and increased customer demand,” shoppers will be limited to three infant formula products for in-store and online purchases.

Walgreens echoed this in a statement, saying it also imposed a three-item limit in an effort to “help improve inventory.” Target claimed to have a limit of four items online but no limit in store.

Costco, which did not immediately respond to a comment search email on Saturday, had various limitations on the formulas listed place.

“The unprecedented scale of this infant formula recall has serious consequences for babies and new parents,” said Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association on Saturday. The non-profit organization provides nutritional assistance to women, babies and children across the country.

Mr. Dittmeier said that Abbott Nutrition is the exclusive supplier to more than half of the WIC agencies nationwide, meaning “this is not an isolated problem.”

“Every day we hear from parents who are hurt, angry, anxious and scared,” she said. “Their children’s lives are at stake.”

In retail stores, the shelves are often empty. And online parents are forming Facebook groups to alert each other to stock or restocked business, both of which are rare nowadays, Ms. Hernandez said.

“It’s a nightmare,” he said.

In a Facebook group called “Baby Milk For Sale”, a mother on Saturday pleaded for a specific brand: “Looking for Similac NeoSure in the Arizona area! Please help !! I’m almost out.”

Mr Dittmeier said that “unlike other food recalls, the shortage of infant formula affects an important – or even exclusive – source of nutrition for babies.” Inadequate nutrition, he added, “could have long-term health implications.”

Datasembly, a retail software company, She said that about 31% of formulated products were out of stock across the country in April. In seven states – Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington – the rate for the week of April 3 was even worse, at 40%.

The shortage also weighs heavily on households already struggling with a surge in inflation. The office of the United States Surgeon General she said on her website that families typically spend up to $ 1,500 on infant formula in the first year.

Mr Dittmeier said the shortage is “particularly acute for children who need special formulas to deal with allergies, gastrointestinal problems or metabolic disorders”.

Ms. Hernandez said her daughters, one 6 months and the other 3 years old, both need a special formula.

The seller she texted sold her the 10 cans but it will only last about five or six weeks, she estimated. The formula she usually buys, EleCare, was one of Abbott’s recalled products in February, Ms. Hernandez said.

Affected products have already been withdrawn from stores, but parents can use them an online search via Abbott Nutrition to check the status of the products they need.

The Infant Nutrition Council of American stated in a statements that formula companies were “committed to ensuring the continued availability of infant formula for every child” during the shortage.

But Mr. Dittmeier said that manufacturers’ assurances about the increase in production did not lead to the products reaching the store shelves. “Each day this crisis continues, parents become more and more anxious and desperate to find what they need to feed their children,” he said.