Social Question

chyna's avatar

Why is there a baby formula shortage?

Asked by chyna (47850points) 2 months ago from iPhone

I know one company was shut down due to some kind of contamination, but isn’t there more than one company that makes baby formula? Is this just a way to make the price skyrocket? And why can’t they import from other countries?

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23 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

There are only 4 companies making 98% of all formula consumed in the US. The Abbott plant that was shut down is reopening, and there should be more formula within 6 to 8 weeks.

janbb's avatar

Also, they are looking into importing from the EU but the standards are different in the USA so the FDA has to approve it first. Meanwhile, indviduals can order from Amazon in Canada.

It’s pretty lousy though.

jca2's avatar

On the news, they said the factory closed in September and I guess the supply lasted until now, so it really wasn’t a crisis until now. Still, the FDA is going to look into why it took so long to get the factory up and running again.

It’s a hot topic on the news day and night. I feel bad for people who have babies now and need formula. They say they’re going to 10 and 12 stores just trying to get it. It must be extremely stressful. When you have a baby, you’re busy enough with everything and also want to enjoy your time with the baby, not worry about driving around and going in and out of stores.

There are FB groups that have been formed recently which are specifically to help people obtain formula.

One of my right wing FB friends posted that there is formula at the US/Mexico border, which Biden shipped down there to help the immigrants coming over the border. I doubt that is 100% accurate, but I wonder if any part of it is true. They are saying that’s part of why there’s none available up here – what little there was, was shipped south.

chyna's avatar

@jca2. I saw an article on that about formula at the border and they said it was powdered milk not formula. I’m not sure what the difference is.

jca2's avatar

@chyna: Formula comes in a powdered form that you have to mix with water, or it comes pre-mixed (liquid form) in plastic bottles. Not sure what one was at the border.

jca2's avatar

I just googled “Snopes baby formula at the border” and I found this but I didn’t read it yet:
https://www.snopes.com/news/2022/05/13/baby-formula-us-mexico-border/

Jeruba's avatar

I read that US health officials are saying don’t make your own. I don’t understand why this isn’t the best solution. When my siblings and I were infants, my mother sterilized glass baby bottles in boiling water and filled them with formula that she made according to a formula—using canned milk and Karo syrup and I don’t know what else. We didn’t die. I don’t know about the Karo syrup, but aren’t there other good and safe alternatives to breast milk any more that you can prepare at home?

chyna's avatar

Good article @jca2.

JLeslie's avatar

I remember when I was young there was some sort of scandal about a brand of baby formula being inadequate and maybe causing some brain damage. I don’t know exactly what came of that. Maybe the FDA hyper controls the baby formula allowed to be sold in the US because of the history, or maybe they have friends in the baby formula US companies or could be another reason.

Two things are happening, Abbott had to shut down, and now people are panicked (understandable) so they are hoarding when they can, creating more shortage on the shelves. Just a few days ago someone posted on social media that one of the grocery stores near me has shelves stocked with baby formula. I bet within a few hours it was all gone. No surprise that baby formula usually sells very slowly where I live, there aren’t a lot of babies here.

I wonder if lactating mothers are helping by pumping milk for other babies. Would you feel comfortable giving that milk to your baby?

@Jeruba There probably are good recipes, but maybe a lot of bad ones? With formula they worry about appropriate nutrition obviously, and I don’t know what else, but there must be reasonable recipes, even if it is just to stretch some packaged formula temporarily.

@ALL Edit: The government should make it illegal to make a profit on reselling baby formula right now. There are probably people hoarding and selling for a fortune on amazon.

Jeruba's avatar

I wonder if the concept of wet nurses is making a comeback.

JLeslie's avatar

Remember about ten years ago Selma Hayek breastfed another woman’s baby and a lot of people freaked out.

There is mother’s milk for sale, I don’t know how expensive it is or how popular it is.

janbb's avatar

There have always been charity breast milk banks and I saw something about one now to help cope with the formula lack.

canidmajor's avatar

@Jeruba I think the general “don’t make your own” absolute advice is irresponsible, as there are excellent formula recipes out there that take full nutrition into consideration, and the stress on families to try and find commercial formula is so high. And as a temporary solution, it beats the hell out of letting babies go hungry.

JLeslie's avatar

There are infant vitamins in drops, so that can help give the baby proper nutrition.

I read somewhere that some people are telling moms they should breastfeed. So annoying. Like moms aren’t concerned about feeding their babies, or that a mom who hasn’t been breast feeding can suddenly start producing milk. Not helpful.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie I’ve also seen articles that say breast feeding isn’t natural. The things that get broadcast to the public…

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 I’m talking about breast feeding specifically now during the formula shortage. Not the idea of breast formula vs breastfeeding in general.

I’ve never seen an article that breastfeeding isn’t natural, probably someone has said it, but of course that’s idiotic. There was a time when some women in the US were being told not to breast feed or saw it as some lower class thing, but that was around the time I was born and my mom was never told any such thing, and in fact a lactation specialist visited her in the hospital. Maybe the military didn’t want to pay for formula. Lol.

canidmajor's avatar

It is just outstandingly frustrating on so many levels, as so many people consider it is their Right and Duty to criticize how women feed their babies, no matter the method. And now, I imagine (I don’t know, of course) that women get questioned and criticized even more during this fraught time.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie I’ll use 3 words: Do a search. It is the latest thing that we aren’t supposed to promote breast feeding as natural. The AAP is afraid we might give some connotation that natural things are somehow better than man made things.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Au contraire according to AAP
“Medical and public health organizations recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months. This recommendation is based on evidence of health benefits for mothers and babies, as well as developmental benefits for babies.” https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article-abstract/137/4/e20154154/81503/Unintended-Consequences-of-Invoking-the-Natural-in?redirectedFrom=PDF

Yes they say it should not be promoted as “Natural” !

But still should promoted.

seawulf575's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Did you actually READ that article? I’m guessing not. Read it. They say that breast feeding is good, but we shouldn’t call it natural. Here, let me help you a little. You stopped just shy of showing EXACTLY WHAT I WAS SAYING:

“A spate of recent work challenges the extent of these benefits, and ethical criticism of breastfeeding promotion as stigmatizing is also growing.1 Building on this critical work, we are concerned about breastfeeding promotion that praises breastfeeding as the “natural” way to feed infants. This messaging plays into a powerful perspective that “natural” approaches to health are better, a view examined in a recent report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.2 Promoting breastfeeding as “natural” may be ethically problematic, and, even more troublingly, it may bolster this belief that “natural” approaches are presumptively healthier. This may ultimately challenge public health’s aims in other contexts, particularly childhood vaccination.” Your citation says that. So no, we shouldn’t call it natural because we might adversely influence others about everything else.

canidmajor's avatar

Why are you guys derailing @chyna’s thread? This sounds like it would be better as a separate Q.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

^^^^^“Yes they say it should not be promoted as “Natural” !”^^^^^

Full paragraph:
Medical and public health organizations recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months. This recommendation is based on evidence of health benefits for mothers and babies, as well as developmental benefits for babies. A spate of recent work challenges the extent of these benefits, and ethical criticism of breastfeeding promotion as stigmatizing is also growing.1 Building on this critical work, we are concerned about breastfeeding promotion that praises breastfeeding as the “natural” way to feed infants. This messaging plays into a powerful perspective that “natural” approaches to health are better, a view examined in a recent report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.2 Promoting breastfeeding as “natural” may be ethically problematic, and, even more troublingly, it may bolster this belief that “natural” approaches are presumptively healthier. This may ultimately challenge public health’s aims in other contexts, particularly childhood vaccination.”

LadyMarissa's avatar

Baby formula flown in from Germany landed in Indiana this afternoon. The FDA is testing formula from various countries to verify it’s safe before it can be shipped in.

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