News

Local moms with babies needing specialty formula still struggle to find it

Posted at 4:34 AM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 07:13:39-04

(WXYZ) — A baby formula shortage continues to plague the nation, and parents are often being met with empty shelves and scrambling to feed their kids.

The shortage is in part triggered by a total shutdown of the Abbott Nutrition Plant in Sturgis, Mich.

The plant restarted production more than a month ago, and according to FindingFormula.org, a data tracking site, supply in the state went down nearly 34% in the past week.

The FDA said they're working overtime to ease the shortage but lawmakers remain very critical of the response so far.

Melissa Yousifein's son, Mateo, had a rough start. He was born premature, weighing just over 2 pounds. The first three months he was hooked up to machines, receiving around-the-click care.

"It was miserable but also at the same time we were blessed because he made it," Yousifein said.

Mateo is still attending doctors' appointments 2-3 times a week. His diet has to be strict soon.

She said Mateo can only tolerate Enfamil NeuroPro, a specialty formula for premature babies. She can rarely find it at stores, and her current supply was shipped to her by a friend who happened to find it in Arizona.

"I can't tell you how many times I broke down crying. I thought all my worries were over when I left the NICU. No, far from it," she said.

The FindFormula.org site said supply remains unstable. In early June, the nationwide stock was at 27%, and the latest numbers show it now at 64%.

Another mother, Noura Ayyad, said she's resulted to going to sites like Craigslist and OfferUp

"You have to be cautious because you don't know who you are dealing with. You don't know if the formula has been contaminated or you know if the seller is trustworthy," she said.

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf testified on the formula shortage back in May. He acknowledges the agency was slow to respond. He also said parents are buying formula in bulk when they can, which is contributing to empty shelves.

Califf said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a list of options and advice for parents trying to navigate the shortage.

The latest message from Abbott reads:

"To ensure Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program participants have continued access to high-quality, safe formula, we're extending the rebates we've been offering on competitive products until September 30, 2022, in states where Abbott holds the contract when Similac is unavailable.

We are continuing to make progress to fully restart production at our plant in Sturgis, Mich., and resumed production on July 1. We are initially manufacturing EleCare and anticipate beginning to release EleCare products in the coming weeks. We are working to restart the production of Similac as soon as we can."