Specialized formula arrives in the US

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — Parents are frantic over the formula supply shortage in the United States, but hope could be on the way.

A military plane carrying enough specialty infant formula for more than half a million baby bottles arrived Sunday in Indianapolis, the first of several flights expected from Europe aimed at relieving a shortage that has sent parents scrambling to find enough to feed their children. The formula is the specialized hypoallergenic formula for kids who cannot consume dairy. The formula weighed 78,000 pounds and is enough to feed 9,000 babies and about 18,000 toddlers for about a week.

“This is this formula is going to infants who are already consuming hypoallergenic, or amino acid formulas. Kids with these conditions, they can’t have the other standard formulas, their options are very limited,” pediatric nutrition doctor Bridget Young said on “Morning in America.” “So this isn’t something that would be newly diagnosed likely. If you’re concerned that your child may have an allergy, check with your pediatrician. And they’ll go through the symptom list with you.”

The flights are intended to provide “some incremental relief in the coming days” as the government works on a more lasting response to the shortage, Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, said 

Deese told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Sunday’s flight brought 15% of the specialty medical grade formula needed in the U.S., and because of various actions by the government, people should see “more formula in stores starting as early as this week.”

More shipments are expected later this week.

Young implored parents to save the specialty formulas for babies who need it rather than grabbing what they can.

“We’re just constantly asking families, if your infant does not need one of these specialty formulas, which is, you know, 5% or less than infants, please leave those on the shelf,” Young said. “Those babies who really need them can’t tolerate other formulas for the vast majority of infants consuming formula. There are infant formulas available for you to purchase. Now, you may have to go to multiple stores, and you may have to switch the formula you’re using. But again, the vast majority of babies are going to be able to handle that switch, and then still be able to acquire an FDA-approved infant formula.”

The Biden administration has struggled to address the nationwide shortage of formula, particularly hypoallergenic varieties. The crisis follows the closure of the nation’s largest domestic manufacturing plant in Michigan in February due to safety issues.

This comes as most Americans blame baby formula manufacturers and supply chain shortages for the ongoing formula crisis, according to a new NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ poll released earlier this week.

More than 65% of survey respondents said they are somewhat or very concerned about the shortage, although voters vary widely on who they think is the culprit for the crisis.

U.S. regulators and Abbott Nutrition hope to have its Michigan plant reopened next week, but it will take about two months before product is ready for delivery. The Food and Drug Administration this week eased importation requirements for baby formula to try to ease the supply crunch, which has left store shelves void of some brands and some retailers rationing supply for parents nervous about feeding their children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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