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Pediatrician Offers Last-Resort Options For Those Searching For Baby Formula

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Babies under the age of 1 year old require breastmilk or formula as their primary nutrition. Amid a nationwide formula shortage, families are having to travel to multiple stores in a day to try to find powdered infant formula in stock. More recently, stores may be sold out completely of infant formula online.

Abbott Labs reached an agreement with the FDA to reopen its plant in Sturgis, Michigan. The plant was closed in February for safety concerns after several infants got sick. However, the formula shortage isn't going to get better soon. Abbott says it will take about eight weeks for new supply to hit store shelves.

Families with limited resources may not be able to travel to multiple stores looking for formula.

NorthPoint Community Food Shelf in North Minneapolis offers both infant formula and donated breastmilk for families in need. For the donor breastmilk, it is available to newborns as a temporary bridge for parents experiencing low milk supply and financial need.

Food Program Manager Stuart Iseminger anticipates their current formula stock will run out in about a week.

"If you need help please give us a visit," Iseminger said.

"We do know this is affecting people not evenly. not equitably," Hennepin Healthcare pediatrician and American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson Dr. Hannah Luchtsinn said.

If you're not able to find formula, call your pediatrician or the WIC program.

Lichtsinn says a last resort option for babies over six months of age is to offer whole milk only until you find formula. Dairy milk isn't typically recommended for babies under 1 year old.

"The infant's digestive system isn't able to absorb the protein as easily from cow's milk and it actually leaches the iron and other important nutrients way from the baby."

Donor breastmilk is also a good option for many families Lichtsinn recommends checking with friends, coworkers, and community milk sharing groups. Human Milk 4 Human Babies is an example.

You can also buy breastmilk from milk banks though it can be expensive. Lichtsinn does not want families watering down formula.

"It's absolutely not safe to do," she said. "We are seeing it and we're seeing kids get sick from it."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents check smaller stores to see if they have formula in stock.

The NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center also offers the ICHRP program that has resources for pregnant African-American women and African American mothers with small children who need assistance with postpartum care.

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