Resources, advice available to worried Hawaii parents amid baby formula shortage

You should see some of those big brand-name baby formulas back on the shelves in the next couple of months.
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:13 PM HST|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 5:33 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - You should see some of those big brand-name baby formulas back on the shelves in the next couple of months.

That’s because Abbott Nutrition, which makes about half of the country’s supply, said it could reopen its Michigan plant in two weeks after reaching an agreement with U.S. health officials. It had closed the facility in February due to safety issues after reports of infant illness and deaths from its products.

While the shortage is causing some anxiety, experts say it’s allowed them to share a new message about taking care of babies.

Staff at the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii say they’ve been inundated with questions after reports of a shortage of some popular brands of baby formula.

Until shelves are restocked, medical experts advise parents not to panic and say resources are available if they can’t find what they need.

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It’s also an opportunity to promote alternatives new moms may not have considered.

“I always emphasize lactation has been the optimal food for infants and even into toddlerhood,” said Jacqueline Ingram, a licensed midwife and lactation consultant.

“People might start considering an extended breastfeeding longer than a year or even two years.”

Lactation experts and midwives also urge moms who stopped breastfeeding to consider restarting.

“It’s a process that needs a lot of support, not just as a community resource, but within the family unit as well,” Pennie Bumrungsiri, a licensed midwife.

“It’s a process that once people have stopped breastfeeding, sometimes it’s really hard to re-engage in that, even just thinking about, ‘Am I able to, is it possible?’ Yes, it can be.”

Experts say you should not water down baby formula and avoid homemade formulas.

“I feel like there could be a contamination issue with that as well,” Ingram said.

“We don’t want babies to have diluted formula, because then they’re not getting the nutrition.”

And don’t feed your infant products for toddlers. When in doubt, reach out to your doctor or to the Women, Infants, and Children program if you’re a beneficiary.

Ingram tells patients who are attached to specific brands that there are similar products in the market that are not affected by the shortage.

“If somebody had a critical issue, providers are able to reach out to manufacturers and get the specific product that they need,” Ingram said.

The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coaltion of Hawaii has a list of resources and answers to your most common questions about the shortage.

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