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Parents taking ‘real risk’ with homemade recipes

Expert Warns Against Homemade Baby formula Recipes

As the baby food shortage sweeping the US continues, desperate parents are forced to buy formulas that will make their babies sick or to make their own.

According to Datasembly, as of April 24, 40 percent of baby food was sold out nationwide. This was a 29 percent increase from March, with calls for the Biden administration to address the issue.

The shortage has reached 11,000 stores nationwide. To avoid inventories, pharmacies and major retailers have resorted to limiting the amount of formula that can be bought at one time, with low-income families being hit hardest by the shortage.

Making your own formula can be dangerous, though, as pregnancy nutritionist and baby teat expert Katie Angotti describes it as “a real risk.”

A baby bottle next to a spoon sitting in a pile of powdered infant formula. The shortage of baby food in the US has caused parents to panic and start making their own versions or stretching out stocks of risky ingredients.
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Angotti has advised two of the UK’s leading food brands, Cow&Gate and Aptamil, warning that baby food is highly regulated for a reason.

She said News week: “Babies’ diets are controlled foods made to meet the specific nutritional needs of babies. It would be impossible to get the right balance of all those nutrients at home.

“Too much protein can affect a baby’s kidneys, or too little calcium and vitamin D, for example, can affect their bones.

“I’d be really concerned about the level of various salts that could be present or missing, meaning babies can become dehydrated quickly.”

The shortfall was initially caused by the closure of a critical manufacturing facility owned by Abbott Nutrition. The Sturgis, Michigan location was closed in February, along with a product recall, after an FDA report revealed a series of food safety issues at the plant. At least five infants became ill with Cronobacter infections, two of whose deaths are currently under investigation.

Abbott owns the premium brand Similac and is also the primary supplier of infant formula to state programs for low-income families. The company has said it is working with regulators to reopen the Sturgis facility, and has dispatched additional shipments from its facility in Ireland to address the shortfall.

However, the recall has already disrupted supply chains and led to price increases, with some eBay sellers selling formulas for as much as $120 a can.

Angotti said there are also huge hygiene risks associated with homemade baby food.

“Factories that make infant formulas have incredibly strict hygiene and contamination controls to ensure the final product is safe for babies with weak immune systems,” she explains.

“I’ve visited infant milk factories myself, and there’s no way I can replicate that level of hygiene at home.”

If your baby has no specific medical need, Angotti recommends using a different formula if you can’t get your usual one, as they all have the same nutritional criteria.

However, some parents resort to feeding babies with allergies or intolerances with a non-hypoallergenic formula despite it making their child unwell as they have no other option. Others are trying to ration what supplies they have left by mixing the product with other ingredients, such as milk and extra water, which doctors are also warning about.

Fortunately, kind strangers help parents by sending formulas to states that are especially struggling, with Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Iowa and Missouri having less than 50 percent of the supply available.