June 21 – A digital clearinghouse for information on the current infant formula shortage has been launched by the state of New Mexico.
NMformula.org is a comprehensive site offering information on where infant formula may be available. It also provides information about community resources, including local health boards, pediatricians, food pantries and support organizations.
The website connects people to the crowdsourcing Facebook page, NM Infant Formula Support Network, created by the Early Childhood Education and Care Department, as well as the Human Milk Repository of New Mexico, an accredited milk bank that collects donations from breast milk, filters it for safety and sells that milk to eligible families.
In a statement announcing the creation of the website, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said she encourages “all eligible families to enroll in the New Mexico Infant and Child Assistance Program (WIC) or the Supplementary Nutritional Assistance (SNAP) to help during this shortage”. Information on these programs is also available there.
The launch of NMformula.org comes on the heels of a powdered baby formula shortage that began two years ago, following pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and consumers hoarding available supplies. Shortages have worsened in recent months after Cronobacter bacteria were discovered at the facilities of Abbott Laboratories in Sturgis, Michigan, which is one of four companies that produce about 90% of the U.S. formula, according to Food. and Drug Administration of the United States.
Infant formulas produced at the Abbott plant include those under the Similac brand names, Similac PM 60/40, Alimentum and EleCare products.
The bacteria outbreak has been linked to two infant deaths since February, but the FDA reported last week that seven other infant deaths were linked to the Abbott facility dating back to September 2021. The FDA also said that she had filed 25 “life-threatening illnesses/injuries” and 80 “non-life-threatening illnesses/injuries” complaints as a result of the contamination of infant formula.
The Abbott plant, closed since February, reopened on June 4, only to have to close again on June 13 after heavy rain caused flooding in parts of the manufacturing plant.
The newly created website, NMformula.orgoffers a number of tips to help parents deal with the persistent shortage of infant formula:
– Call your baby’s pediatrician or provider to see if they have samples in the office.
— Ask your baby’s pediatrician or caregiver to suggest a similar formula that may be more readily available in stores and is nutritionally similar to your baby’s typical formula.
— Check small stores and pharmacies, which may have formula even when larger stores are out.
— Do not give infant formulas, which are generally higher in calories than infant formulas and may not be safe for babies under six months of age.
— Do not dilute formula to make it last longer, or create a do-it-yourself concoction. Infant formulas are manufactured to contain specific nutrients in specific proportions, the absence of which can lead to serious nutritional imbalances which can lead to a number of disorders.