Baby formula shortage impacts families across the Ozarks

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 9:33 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A nationwide baby formula shortage is hitting families across the Ozarks. Manufacturers are ramping up production, but they say it could take weeks to catch up.

Heather Stout has been struggling to find formula for her nine-month-old baby girl.

Stout says she started seeing less formula on the shelves about three months ago and that it’s only gotten worse from there.

”I don’t have a vehicle, so my sister last Friday we were out and about for four and a half hours looking for formula for her,” Stout says. “I sat in her car, and I cried because I didn’t know what to do. I contacted her doctor. I contacted WIC. Nobody had answers for me. Nobody could tell me how to feed my baby.”

Stout says the problem first started when Abbott Nutrition had a recall for the formula she uses in February.

“They had to switch my baby’s formula, so I don’t know if it works on her yet or not,” Stout says. “We haven’t tried the new one, but we still can’t find it. I was lucky enough to find it at one store here in Willard, but every Walmart I called was completely out of everything.”

KY3 checked stores in Springfield; Walgreens, Walmart, Price Cutter, and HyVee, all had nearly empty shelves.

Stout says that when cans of the formula are available, stores across the Ozarks limit how many customers can buy.

“That two cans only last you for four days, maybe depending on how much your baby eats,” Stout says. “You go back four days later, and it’s gone.”

Bridgett Stap has a five-month-old son with a dairy allergy. Stap says no local stores have carried the special powder formula he needs for months.

“We had almost all of our family members looking for it,” Stap says. “It’s hard. No one could find it, so we had to go to a different formula, and eventually, we found out that formula didn’t work, and it made him very sick.”

The special dairy-free formula does come in a liquid form, but she can’t find it in any stores.

Stap says each bottle of formula is only enough for one day.

“Thankfully, you can buy it on Amazon, but to buy it from Amazon, you have to buy it in bulk, so you can buy one box which comes with six bottles,” Stap says. “I can’t remember how much one box costs, but it’s expensive. For us to buy it in bulk for the month, it’s close to $400.”

Both Stout and Stap also emphasized the fact there is a lot of stigma around using formula.

They hope people are more understanding that for some families, it’s a necessity.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department warns against homemade formula:

Parents and other caregivers should not make or feed homemade infant formula to infants. Without proper regulation, homemade infant formula may lack proper ingredients that are vital to infant growth and can cause life-threatening foodborne illnesses when consumed. It is recommended to contact your health care provider and receive care immediately if your infant has consumed any homemade formula

Furthermore, diluting formula (mixing with more water to make it last longer) is not recommended as this can cause water intoxication for infants.

Springfield-Greene County WIC has made some alternative formulas available. For specialty formula, parents and caregivers can talk to their health care provider or they can try the ready-to-feed version of their existing formula.  In regard to WIC they will have to come into the office to get their benefits changed.

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