(WHTM) — The U.S. is still flying baby formula in from Europe and Australia to deal with the shortage. When is it gong to be over? What do the shelves at Midstate stores look like?
abc27 visited several grocery stores and pharmacies to check how much formula they had in stock. The shelves were not completely empty, the way many shelves looked back in May and June, but formula is still running low and most places are limiting how much formula customers can buy.
“Parents are still unable to find the exact formulas they’re looking for,” pediatrician Dr. Pia Fenimore said.
Fenimore is the vice chair of pediatrics at Lancaster General Hospital. She said while we are still facing the shortage, there are signs it is improving.
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“Overall, I think it’s gotten slightly better,” she said. “We certainly expect it to get a lot better in the near future.”
Fenimore said the Biden administration’s efforts to import formula from overseas have helped.
“We’re starting to see those show up on local store shelves,” she said.
Another factor is the Abbott baby formula plant reopening after it shut down in February because of a potential bacterial contamination. The plant’s initial shutdown worsened the formula shortage.
“They’re working very quickly to get it re-staffed and to make sure that the formula that’s produced there is safe,” Fenimore said.
In the meantime, Fenimore is warning parents against trying anything drastic.
“You should not dilute the formula more so that it lasts longer,” she said, adding that could be dangerous for a baby. “You should not make your own formula.”
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If families are struggling to find the exact formula they need, Fenimore said look for the closest substitute: the formula with the same protein as the formula a baby normally has.
“When you’re comparing products that are available, look for that same protein source,” she said. “That means that your baby will most likely tolerate that formula and you won’t notice much of a difference.”
Fenimore said the current shortage should be close to over in the next three or four weeks, but pediatricians are looking ahead.
“I think this has been a real eye opener both for pediatricians, for parents and hopefully for our U.S. government,” she said.
Fenimore hopes this pushes government to take steps to prevent a repeat.
“Many pediatricians, including myself, are very frustrated and frankly angry that this even could happen in this country,” she said.
Fenimore said one of the steps she wants to see is making sure there have stockpiles of baby formula.
She also wants more frequent monitoring of manufacturing plants to avoid full shutdowns.