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As Baby Formula Shortage Worsens, Health Officials Release List Of Formula Alternatives

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The nationwide baby formula shortage is not only continuing, it's gotten worse.

Baby formula was 11% out of stock nationwide last November. Then it got worse, jumping to 31% in early April and more recently, all the way up to 40%.

The shortage was fueled by pandemic supply chain issues but became severe after Abbott Nutrition had to shut down its formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, after a major formula recall.

Stores across the Twin Cities have empty baby formula shelves, with many placing limits on how many formula products customers can buy.

"I was worried," Emily, a mom of one, said. "I worried about what I was buying, when I was buying it, where to buy it from."

Emily's daughter just turned 12 months old. She switched her daughter to whole milk a little earlier than planned because of the shortage.

Doctors recommend a baby's primary nutrition come from breastmilk or formula under a year of age.

Jennifer Debell lives in Freedom, Minnesota. She's looked everywhere for her 3-month-old son's powdered formula.

"Probably 10 to 12 stores in a day," Debell said.

She asked family in Colorado to pick up the formula and ship it to her.

The Minnesota Department of Health created an approved formula substitutions list where parents can look up similar formula types from different brands, if they can't find their typical one in stock.

For women struggling to breastfeed or wanting to stop, the formula shortage is extra pressure to keep going. Heather Dwyer works full time and was planning to stop pumping milk soon for her 10-month-old.

"It's one of those things like I am not sure when I'm going to be done now," Dwyer, from Oak Grove, said.

The FDA released a statement Tuesday saying in part:

"We recognize that many consumers have been unable to access infant formula….We are doing everything in our power to ensure there is adequate product available where and when they need it."

"It's very scary," Debell said.

Abbott Nutrition says its plant in Sturgis could be up and running again in two weeks to get their products back on shelves within two months, pending FDA approval.

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