Parents cross Mexican border for baby formula

Business

(NewsNation) — Chrissy Murray of Dallas, Texas, was driving back from a girls trip in Cabo, Mexico, when she decided to stop by a supermarket. There, she couldn’t believe her eyes: rows and rows of baby formula. 

Murray said the store worker seemed confused by her excitement.

“She said take as much formula as you want,” Murray said. “We have tons in the back. So it was like a kid in a candy store for me. I was like, ‘Let’s load it up!! Everything we can get!’” 

Parents have gone to great lengths in the midst of a nationwide baby formula shortage, after a recall by formula maker Abbott intersected with supply chain shortages to create the crisis.

The shortage is particularly dire because babies’ systems can only process breast milk and certain formulas during their first year. For parents who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed — as high as 50 percent — formula is the only way to feed their newborns.

President Joe Biden invoked emergency powers with the Defense Production Act (DPA) last week. The Justice Department has proposed a consent decree against Abbott. French company Danone and Swiss company Nesle have both vowed to send hundreds of thousands of cans to the U.S. in the coming weeks.

Murray and her friends loaded up 12 cans of formula to take back home.

“I didn’t feel guilty then, like I would at home … (for) taking more than you need in that moment because other people need it, too,” she said.

And while in some cities like Tijuana, just south of the border, formula is plentiful, some doctors warn to only buy brands you recognize and use. That’s because formula manufactured in other countries does not necessarily meet the same standards as in the U.S., said Dr. Maya Bunik, medical director of Children’s Hospital Colorado. Additionally, 2-5 percent of babies are allergic to dairy.

“There’s a toddler formula called Nido that’s really not safe for infants,” Bunik said. “We want to have families avoid making their own formula recipes and providing either more juice or cows milk from the carton.” 

Meanwhile, Abbott says it plans to reopen the closed facility June 4, but it could take up to eight weeks before the formula will be available to buy.

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