Edward-Elmhurst Health: What to do during baby formula shortage

Baby formula (photo by National Institute of Korean Language, CC BY-SA 2.0 KR)

WARRENVILLE, Ill. — The Food and Drug Administration is investigating recent complaints of cronobacter and salmonella infections in infants who consumed powdered infant formula produced at Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan facility.

“Infants have a high risk of complications from infections with cronobacter and salmonella,” says Victoria Uribe, M.D., pediatrician with Elmhurst Clinic, part of the NorthShore — Edward-Elmhurst Health system in suburban Chicago. “Parents should call their pediatrician right away if their baby exhibits symptoms of these infections.”

Symptoms of a cronobacter or salmonella infection include poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), grunting breaths, abnormal movements, lethargy, rash and blood in the urine or stool.

The company has recalled the Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered formulas in question. Between supply chain delays and the recall, infant formula has been more difficult to find. But there are options:

  • Check with your doctors. Pediatricians and OB/GYNs often have formula samples in their offices. They can also suggest substitutions or potential new sources.
  • It’s OK to switch brands. Just don’t switch types of formula, like swapping cow’s milk protein-based formula for soy.
  • Shop around. Smaller stores may have formula in stock when larger chain stores are out. Infant formula can also be purchased directly from the manufacturer. The Infant Nutritional Council of America warns against buying infant formula from other people, such as at flea markets, on e-commerce websites, or on social media or internet auction sites. The products may have been improperly stored, which can affect the quality. Remember to check containers for punctures, dents and potential tampering, and always check the use-by date on each container before buying and/or using.
  • Don’t try to dilute formula to make it last longer. Parents should not try to make their own formula, either. Straying from the recommended usage could cause health problems for your baby.

Get more information at EEHealth.org/services/children.

Source: Edward-Elmhurst Health

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