LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Parents across Kentuckiana are facing worsening shortages of infant formula amid a recent recall by formula manufacturer Abbott Laboratories and the ongoing issues in the supply chain.
The shortage has caused major retailers such Target, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS to limit their purchases, forcing customers to make multiple trips to the quickly emptying shelves, according to The Washington Post.
During the week of April 3, approximately 31% of infant formula were out of stock nationwide, according to retail software company Datasembly.
"One day I literally went to 15 stores just to come to nothing," Shyanne Huffman, a mother of two, told WDRB News. "Like, it's heartbreaking. I get emotional over it because I don't know what I'm gonna do."
Huffman has a 6-week-old with health issues and needs a specific kind of formula that's not often available, and she's not alone.
"I've looked at every store in Indiana and here (in Kentucky) and haven't found her formula at not one store," said Kassidi Hillard, who has a 2-month-old who needs Similac Pro-Advance.
In addition to supply chain issues that have snarled inventory, the shortage has been caused in part by major formula manufacturer Abbott Nutrition expanding its baby formula recall last month after the death of another child.
The company posted another recall notice announcing that voluntary recall now includes one lot of its Similac PM 60/40 formula, which was manufactured at its facility in Sturgis, Michigan.
"Luckily my grandma, she lives in a small town a couple hours away, she found just a few cans and it was like, the last kinds they have," Hillard said. "They don't have any more. She found them and she shipped them to us."
In February, certain Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powder formulas produced at the same facility were recalled after there were four cases of bacterial infections in Ohio, Texas and Minnesota.
In January, Moor Herbs voluntarily recalled its Angel Formula on Jan. 7 after FDA testing revealed that the "product did not meet specific nutrition and labeling requirements for infant formula," according to the recall notice posted by the FDA.
"This is a specialty formula for certain infants who would benefit from lowered mineral intake and was not included in the previous recall," according to a separate notice posted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Doctors said parents having trouble finding their baby's formula can transition from one formula to another, or use a ready-made formula, but to never try to extend the use of the formula they have. Doctors said parents must still go by the recipe on the formula's label.
"It's usually 2 ounces to one scoop of the powder. You want to stick to that ratio because, if you add extra water to it trying to stretch it out, it decreases the nutritional value of the formula and it could make the baby sick," Dr. Heather Felton, with Norton Children's Medical Group Pediatrics.
As for new moms trying to navigate motherhood for the first time, they don't know what to do if they can't feed their baby.
"It's kind of stressful, cause if you can't find formula, it's like they can't eat nothing else," Hillard said. "They can't have baby food, they can't have hard food, they can't have what we eat so it's really, it's not an easy thing to go through."
Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail in New York, told the Washington Post that shortages of formula will encourage people to hoard it, which further exacerbates the problem.
"This is why some retailers have put in place quantity restrictions," he said. "There is a lot of worry among parents," that such an essential item is increasingly hard to find.
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