The Formula Shortage
For parents with young children, with the frequent feedings and sleep deprivation, the first year of life with a new baby is already quite challenging. Now, with the formula shortage, the stress has increased further. The formula shortage started when Similac, one of the big formula makers in the U.S., had to recall some of its powdered formulas due to concerns of Cronobacter bacteria contamination. If you are not sure whether your particular formula batch was affected, please check the serial code on the Similac website. Here is also the link for more information related to the recall: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/powdered-infant-formula-recall-what-know.
You may see recipes for homemade formula posted on the internet or circulating through different social media sites. Some of these involve boiling cow’s milk, using carnation evaporated milk, goat milk, or other means. These homemade recipes are dangerous and unsafe for infant consumption. The baby’s kidneys continue to develop and mature after birth until 9 months of age. These homemade formulas frequently do not have the correct electrolyte contents. As a pediatric nephrologist, I have seen infants in the hospital with severe hyponatremia or hypernatremia (electrolyte disturbances) due to ingestion of homemade formula. These electrolyte disturbances can lead to brain swelling and brain damage. Furthermore, these recipes may not contain adequate amounts of nutrients, such as calcium, iron, or folate. They may also have contaminates like E coli or salmonella that can lead to severe infections.
Hopefully the formula shortage will be short lived and quickly resolved. In the meantime, any of the formula brands sold in the store is fine to use. All brands marketed in the United States must meet FDA regulations, and hence have to follow guidelines for safe levels of nutrients and electrolytes. Please follow the instructions to make the formula and not dilute it with extra water. Dilution with extra water can also lead to electrolyte imbalances.