Formula shortage has anxious parents stalking shelves nationwide

Jessica Ibarra stood in a Target store, staring at bare shelves that should have been filled with formula. It was Tuesday, six days after giving birth to her daughter, and neither she nor her husband had had any luck finding formula on trips to several grocery stores near their home in Arlington, Texas.

Another mother, holding her newborn baby, walked through the infant formula aisle. She looked at the empty shelves, then looked at Ibarra.

“I can’t find my baby’s formula anywhere,” the mother told Ibarra.

“I can’t either,” replied Ibarra, who cannot breastfeed because she has epilepsy and takes anticonvulsant medication that could pose a risk to her baby. Both women started crying.

Jessica Ibarra and her daughter AriaCourtesy of Jessica Ibarra

An infant formula shortage that began at the start of the pandemic has worsened dramatically in recent weeks due to labor shortages and a major product recall, creating panic and anxiety among relatives across the country.

With a nationwide out-of-stock percentage of 43% for the week ending May 8, according to retail analytics firm Datasembly, many families are struggling to find formula in stores. stores and online. The delays could last eight to 10 weeks, Abbott Nutrition, the company behind the recall, said on Wednesday.

Many parents have become engrossed in the search for infant formula, prompting some to consider taking steps they normally wouldn’t take just to be able to feed their babies.

On social networks, recipes for homemade formula are circulating, which the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises against, calling it dangerous. The academy also warns against diluting formula to make it last longer, which will not meet the nutritional needs of infants.

In Washington, Jason Resendez and her husband, Brian Pierce, didn’t do anything risky like watering down the formula. But they still felt uncomfortable. Instead of giving their 3-month-old the brand of formula they gave her when they adopted them, they had to rely on whatever was in stock – and it’s hard to find a brand that’s always available.

Brian Pierce, Jason Resendez and their son
Brian Pierce, Jason Resendez and their son.Courtesy of Jason Resendez

“It’s like we’re playing Russian roulette with our baby’s formula, which as new parents isn’t a good feeling because we don’t know what he’s allergic to,” said Resend. “Continually trying new formulas is really scary.”

In Evans, Georgia, William Zachary and his wife spent hours driving around looking for formula for their 6-month-old twins, which they use to supplement breast milk.

This week, Zachary planned the most efficient route he could think of for a search during his lunch break, which involved stopping at Walmart, Kroger, Publix and other stores. He came back empty-handed.

Since shortages began to escalate after Abbott Nutrition’s voluntary recall in February, Zachary’s twins have had six different types of formula – anything the family can get their hands on. Some seem more suitable for twins than others.

“Our eldest son is lactose intolerant. We think one of the twins is too – when he doesn’t have sentient versions, he ends up being tougher,” Zachary said. “It ends up being a bit of a problem, but I’d rather have them fed.”

Adriana and William Zachary with their children, Selena, Mason, and twins, Benjamin and Theodore.
Adriana and William Zachary with their children, Selena, Mason, and twins, Benjamin and Theodore.Lexie Merlino Photography

Most Babies Consume Formula: While 84.1% of babies are breastfed at some point in their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46.9% of babies are exclusively breastfed at 3 months and only 25.6% at 6 months.

As the shortage of infant formula has worsened, some online forums have shamed those who use infant formula, suggesting they could simply breastfeed instead.

“We don’t have that option,” Resendez said. “It definitely highlights how out of touch some people are with the realities of caregiving and parenting and how this conception is so stereotypical, that if you’re caring for a child, you have to be a father and a mother. providing this care, when the reality is there are thousands of LGBT couples providing this care.

Ibarra knows that her anti-convulsant medication is passed through her breast milk, but for the past few days she has started pumping and freezing breast milk in case she can’t find formula for her daughter, Aria, and doesn’t have no other choice. She hopes it won’t come to this and has enlisted friends and family in other areas to look for formula so she can stock up.

“I’m trying to take care of my daughter and spend time bonding with her, and it’s so hard, because it feels like there’s a cloud hanging over us,” said she declared.

“It’s heartbreaking. It makes you feel like a failure as a parent, like you’re failing your kids because you can’t even feed them,” she added. “It makes you feel helpless.”

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