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Up to 40% of baby formula brands out of stock, latest data shows

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 2:06 PM EDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI/CNN) - Parents navigating baby formula recalls and the ongoing supply chain disruptions now face a worsening situation.

New data shows shortages are growing as three major retailers take action to address the situation.

Analysts say supply chain challenges, inflation and product recalls are all preventing formula from hitting store shelves.

The FDA is paying close attention as it works with manufacturers to safely ramp up production.

“We’re very concerned about it and understand that it should be a concern that moms and dads and grandparents like me, we want this to get fixed,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said.

New data from Datasembly shows as much as 40% of baby formula brands were out of stock as of early last month, a dramatic rise from the first half of 2021 when the rate was between two and eight percent.

Seven states had out-of-stock rates above 40%, while 20 others were between 30% and 40%.

The new data also shows in six states: Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Missouri, Texas and Tennessee, more than half of baby formula was completely sold out during the last week of April.

The situation has parents feeling helpless.

“There’s no answer. What are we supposed to do if we can’t find the formula?” Samanta Cory, a mother to twins, said.

The supply is so low that retailers CVS, Walgreens and Target are limiting purchases. But parents say those limits are making things even harder.

“So what am I doing? I’m starting to hoard, I’m starting to scour, we’re going further out,” Cory says. “I’m going to areas where I know that there’s a low population. What am I doing? You know, it’s unreal.”

Experts urge parents to be flexible and to speak to their pediatricians about options, especially if they have kids with severe allergies that require special formulas.

“We want to make sure that families do not get desperate and do things like start making formulas at home or buying formulas are not properly vetted by the FDA,” Former AAP Committee on Nutrition Chair Dr. Steven Abrams said.

In February, the FDA recalled three brands of powdered baby formulas made by Abbott citing potential bacterial infections including salmonella.

In a statement, Abbott said it is “working closely with the FDA to resume operations in its Michigan plant.”

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