Long-term effects of formula shortage, experts offer answers

(NewsNation) — The massive infant formula shortage has Americans questioning how they can prevent this from happening ever again, and why we are even in this situation. NewsNation is digging deep to answer questions and focus on topics that matter to you in our new exclusive series, “Economic Brain Room.”

Economist Dr. Ernst Coupet Jr. and pediatrician Dr. Payal D. Adhikari joined Adrienne Bankert live on “Morning in America” to discuss the long-term economic and health effects of the infant formula shortage.

Will the price of formula continue to climb?

The FDA is predicting that formula will become more readily available sometime this summer, estimating as early as July. However, parents should expect the cost of formula to be relatively high.

“Prices will remain high, as long as there’s a shortage. So, shortages provide high prices,” Dr. Ernst Coupet Jr. said, “And unfortunately for parents, that’s what’s going to happen. That’s going to exist for some time.”

Are there alternatives when it comes to formula?

People are trying to DIY their own formula right now, coming up with old-school recipes that they found from the 1950s or heading to other countries to obtain it. But there are risks involved with doing these things.

“So bottom line is, it’s not safe to make your own formula,” Dr. Payal D. Adhikari said, “There are so many risks involved. The FDA has very specific guidelines on how formula should be produced because babies are not adults. Their bodies are very immature. Their kidneys are immature, and they can’t process things the way that we can. So, there’s very specific ingredients in formula.”

Risks include: Malnutrition, poor growth, poor development, possible seizures and even death if things are not made properly.

Adhikari recommends that people only use FDA-approved formula.

So, what are the options?

“Parents really need to understand that they don’t have to be brand loyal,” Adhikari said, “so they can switch between formulas, the same way grownups can switch between brands of milk … Of course it does not apply for kids with very specific medical needs, right? Kids who have cow’s milk, protein allergies are even more significant allergies. But for your, your typical healthy child, you can switch between, not only brands of formula, but types of formula.”

Food chain disruptions: How to better prepare

It’s a perfect storm. The supplier providing a product for the entire market went down, and inflation is affecting the product’s affordability.

Dr. Ernst Coupet Jr. suggested that the nation needs more than one manufacturer in order to prevent another shortage from reoccurring.

“It’s not necessarily to reduce the number of, or let’s say increase the number of manufacturers, to let’s say, an infinite amount, but their — law Sherman Antitrust law — is there too.” he said, “For these types of issues, where you have four suppliers in the market, any type of hiccup in the in that particular market will produce such an outcome.”


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