Popular social media posts during formula shortage can be harmful

NOW: Popular social media posts during formula shortage can be harmful

After months of barren shelves across the country, some relief for parents hit the tarmac as the first shipments of infant formula touched down in Indianapolis on Sunday. As more shipments arrive and formula production starts back up at Abbott labs, shelves may not be fully stocked for weeks. So, what can parents do to feed their children in the meantime?

It’s hard enough to navigate the challenge of being a first-time parent but the formula shortage has turned this challenge into a nightmare for some. That’s why many are turning to social media for help…but be cautious!

Cody Gamble is a first-time dad who lives in Elkhart, and he’s struggled to find formula for his five-month-old.

“Just in the last month it’s been incredibly hard with the recall that’s happened,” said Gamble. “I don’t think I’ve personally seen formula on the shelves in the last month or so...It’s getting kinda scary because I don’t know the next time we’re going to see it.”

His little boy can only have certain kinds of formula, so turning to other brands, even temporarily, isn’t ideal.

“We’ve tried using a couple of other formulas. They all just cause him some gas and tummy issues…It’s hard to watch him go through it when there’s another option that doesn’t cause that.”

Thanks to friends and family, Gamble can feed his five-month-old son. But some parents haven’t had much luck and have turned to social media for help. A variety of formula alternatives have circled the rounds on Facebook, like one that instructs parents to mix together pet’s milk, water, and Karo syrup, but how does it stack up to the real stuff?

Sally Dixon, the coordinator of maternal infant health initiatives at the St. Joseph County Department of Health provided some clarity.

“As you can imagine, that does not sound very nutritionally sound,” said Dixon. “You should never do anything like that without consulting a pediatrician”

While shelves are not completely stocked across Michiana, Dixon said that Indiana is not seeing shortages like what we are seeing nationally. She recommends that if you are low on formula, keep store shelves stocked for others by only purchasing enough for 10 to 14 days, and while babies can switch brands, make sure cans are available for babies with special diets. Dixon asked parents to save specialty formula for those that need it.

“If your baby takes regular formula, you shouldn’t take that formula because there are certain babies that really need that,” Dixon said.

Dixon recommends that if you cannot find formula, call your pediatrician. Hoosiers can also call the Indiana state helpline at 1-844-MCH-MOMS. Michiganders can call the FDA at 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332). Need help finding formula, track formula from Abbott Nutritional Brands, Mead  Johnson Nutrition Brands, Gerber Brands and Nutricia Products.

You can also find formula locally on social media.

Thanks to family and friends, Cody Gamble is able to feed his five-month-old son after months of finding barren shelves. Inspired by an article about a similar group on social media, Gamble started Formula Finders of Michiana to put an end to the run-around on the quest for formula.

“Parents won’t have to drive across town, over to Mishawaka, South Bend, wherever they’re looking, aimlessly trying to find formula that may not even be there.”

You do not have to be a parent to join! Community members are encouraged to join and share shelves from their local stores as parents wait for formula makers to catch up over the next few weeks.

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