Are we facing another baby formula shortage?

Finding formula for babies with certain allergies or premature babies is even harder.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 6:40 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - A former FDA official says the U.S. is still vulnerable to another baby formula shortage. In 2022, supply chain issues kept many store shelves empty. Today, some of those issues still exist.

WALB went to several stores on Thursday and saw a few empty shelves. They weren’t as empty as when we first investigated the story in March of 2022, but there’s still a limit on how many cans families can buy.

This comes after 2022’s nationwide shortage, as well as Abbott Nutrition’s recall of products like Similac, Alimentum and EleCare.

New mom and WALB’s own Jamie Worsley and her family worked with their insurance and pediatrician to have her formula covered by insurance, since it’s hypoallergenic.

“And so that means they can usually just ship it directly to our house. But right now, even the suppliers are out,” Worsley said. “It’s all on backorder. They basically called me, left me a voicemail the last time I tried to order,r and said ‘Sorry, you’re going to have to look at stores near you until we’re able to get more in stock.’”

Jamie Worsley is a new mom.
Jamie Worsley is a new mom.(WALB)

Finding formula for babies with certain allergies or premature babies is even harder.

“The nation remains one outbreak, one tornado, flood or cyber-attack away from finding itself in a similar place to that of February 2022,” Frank Yiannas, former FDA deputy commissioner, said.

Former FDA Deputy Commissioner, Frank Yiannas.
Former FDA Deputy Commissioner, Frank Yiannas.(WALB)

Even some baby supply banks are experiencing challenges.

Jamie Lackey is the CEO and founder of Helping Mamas.

“We seem to have an uptake in having access to formula. But now, there seems to be a shortage in different brands,” Lackey said. “So when we do a distribution of it, we’ll have families asking all for one particular brand. And we may not have that because it just depends on the production cycle and what’s being produced.”

“You can’t get the formula you need. You can’t get the baby food you need. And you can’t get the medicine you need for your child,” Worsley said. “So sometimes, it does feel like there’s really nothing you can but just pray that the next store you go in, they have it on the shelf.”

Parents everywhere are seeing shortages of essential baby items.

“There’s also shortages of other baby products as well like infant Tylenol that’s affecting families across the United States and across Georgia,” Worsley said. “I know there’s limits on how much you can buy of that as well. Also, there’s been several baby food recalls. There have been articles circulating of high levels of lead in baby food.”

Lackey suggests parents check within their local community, like local Facebook mom groups, for formula availability.

“I would really look at the local nonprofits like the United Way there in Albany,” Lackey said. “There are several fantastic organizations in Albany that are serving moms that may be in need of it. Or even checking with the local food bank. Because oftentimes, food banks will distribute formula.”

The Helping Mamas baby supply bank will be coming to Albany sometime by the end of summer 2023 to assist families thanks to recent funding secured by Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff.