Baby Formula Shortage Fueling Spike In Milk Bank Interest – CBS Baltimore

The shortage of infant formula in the US has sparked concern at milk banks across the US with some mothers offering to donate breast milk and desperate parents calling. to see if that was the solution to keeping their baby fed.

It’s a path that won’t be right for every formula-fed baby, especially those with special dietary needs, and it comes with challenges as the country’s dozens of nonprofit milk banks prioritize it. nursing a medically weak infant. The organizations collect milk from mothers and process it, including through pasteurization, then work with hospitals to distribute it.

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Shortages stemmed from safety recalls and supply disruptions and have drawn national attention with panicked parents trying to trade and buy formula online and President Joe Biden urged manufacturers to increase production and discuss with retailers how they can add shelves to accommodate regional disparities. The Biden administration also said Friday that formula maker Abbott Laboratories has committed to offering discounts through August for a food stamp-like program that helps women, babies and children with The name is WIC.

At Northeastern Breastmilk Bank, based in Newton, Massachusetts, interest in giving and receiving milk because of the shortage has spiked. Normally, milk banks receive about 30-50 calls per month from people who want to donate. Deborah Youngblood, the bank’s chief executive, said that on Thursday alone, there were 35 calls from potential donors.

“It’s exciting that the first kind of feedback we get is from potential donors – so people respond to formula shortages with a wonderful, compassionate response that Where can I be part of the solution?” she speaks.

Youngblood is about the likes of Kayla Gillespie, a 38-year-old mother of three from Hays, Kansas. Gillespie first donated to the Breast Milk Bank in Denver six years ago, giving 18 gallons (68 liters) after the birth of her first child and has no intention of doing it again.

“I think 18 gallons is enough for one person,” she said. “If I hadn’t heard of the shortage, I wouldn’t have continued this process, just because I have three kids and it’s a bit chaotic around here.”

She has committed to at least 150 ounces of her milk, but said she hopes to offer more.

“I was very fortunate to be able to produce milk, so I just felt like I needed to do something,” she said.

She said she had previously shipped her frozen milk in special containers to Denver, but this time her local hospital is taking donations and she can ship them.

However, it’s not just sponsors. Parents who are desperate to find nutrition for their children are also pursuing milk banks.

At the Massachusetts milk bank, about 30 people called for milk because they couldn’t find their baby’s regular formula, Youngblood said. That number is almost zero calls at all, as milk banks usually serve hospitals.

According to Lindsay Groff, the group’s chief executive officer, the North American Association of Human Milk Banks, an accrediting organization for nonprofit dairy banks, is seeing a “massive increase” in demand. bridge. She estimates requests from parents looking to fill the formula milk gap have grown by 20% in recent days.

Groff calls the shortage a “crisis” and says it’s not as simple as parents supplementing with donated breast milk, because much of that supply is reserved for infants with health status.

“If people are able to donate, now would be the time because as we have more inventory we can look beyond the medically fragile things,” she said.

Parents are also turning to online breast milk exchange forums to meet their baby’s needs.

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Amanda Kastelein, a mother of three from Middlebury, Connecticut, supplemented the special formula she needed for 10-month-old Emerson with breast milk from a mother she found on a peer-to-peer Facebook page called Human Milk 4 Human Babies .

Kastelein stopped breastfeeding after a recurrent infection, but tried to start breastfeeding again in March following the formula recall, with no success.

“Emerson is allergic to most formulas, so it’s hard to find something he’s not allergic to,” she says.

Follow in the footsteps of Hannah Breton of Naugatuck, Connecticut, who is already producing more milk than her 1/2-month-old son needs. She’s feeding Kastelein about 60 ounces of milk every two weeks. That was enough to replenish her formula supply and keep Emerson feeding.

“She asked a bunch of questions — what medications I was taking, if any, that sort of thing,” Breton said. “So we decided, ‘OK, that’s perfect.’ So every few weeks she would come and get the milk I had saved for her.”

“I really feel useful,” she added. “It’s so exciting and rewarding that I can give a gift to a mother who can’t find what she’s looking for, and if her son can’t take formula, I mean, that’s scary.

Rebecca Heinrich, director of the Mothers Milk Bank in Colorado, advises those looking for milk that searching for a donor yourself can be risky.

“We want to make sure these moms are as safe as possible and meet the needs of their babies, so consult with their healthcare provider about how to do this. Meeting those needs is the best way to go,” she said.

Shortages have caused particular hardship to lower-income families following a recall by formula maker Abbott, stemming from concerns about contamination. The recall has exhausted many of the brands covered by WIC, a federal program such as food stamps for women, babies and children, although it now allows products trademark replacement.

On Friday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent a letter to the head of Abbott Laboratories expressing what he called his “serious concerns about the accessibility of safe infant formula.” children,” notes Abbott holds federal WIC infant formula contracts. Vilsack asked Abbott to continue a program of discounts on substitutes including infant formula for competing brands, which it did on a monthly basis. The White House said Friday Abbott is committed to lowering prices through the end of August.

The Biden administration said it is working with states to make it easier for WIC recipients to purchase different sized formulas whose benefits may not currently be covered.

Abbott has said that pending Food and Drug Administration approval, it could restart a manufacturing site “within two weeks”.

The company will start with the production of EleCare, Alimentum and metabolic formulas, and then begin production of Similac and other infant formulas. Once production begins, it will take six to eight weeks for this formula to be available on store shelves.

On Tuesday, the FDA said it was working with US manufacturers to increase production and streamline paperwork to allow more imports.

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