Doctors warn against DIY solutions to baby formula shortage

While families continue to search the shelves for formula, doctors worry some may turn to desperate measures to make what they have last longer.
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:20 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - While families continue to search the shelves for formula, doctors worry some may turn to desperate measures to make what they have last longer.

Lexington pediatricians are urging people to reach out to them if they’re in need, because “at-home solutions” to the shortage could be deadly.

As grocery store shelves continue to lack formula, parents may be taking potentially deadly measures to feed their babies, and they probably don’t even know it.

“People will try to add a little more water. Kind of like when you’re at the end of your shampoo bottle and you add a little more water to make it last until you get to the store. The problem with that is babies’ kidneys don’t work like adults do,” Lexington pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Hawse said.

Dr Hawse said when you put more water into their formula than should be there, you end up lowering the level of sodium in their blood.

“And that can cause them to have some brain damage and seizures, so we definitely don’t want to see that happen,” Dr. Hawse said.

DIY ways to make formula last longer have been circulating all over social media, and now, people are even finding recipes to make their own at home.

“People will say, ‘my mom made my formula, and I’m here.’ Well yes, you’re here, but we had many kids your age die because they were getting too much water in the formula. Or their development was not optimal because there wasn’t enough nutrients. We’re not at that desperate of a situation yet that we can’t help you find formula or help you choose an alternate formula,” Dr. Hawse said.

Both Dr. Hawse and Dr. Katrina Hood at Pediatrics and Adolescent Associates said unless your child has allergies, most formula brands can be replaced for one another, the way you would a Coke and a Pepsi.

“Talk to your pediatrician and sometimes they have samples they should be able to provide or help direct in a different way. Or even potentially give you samples of other formulas,” Dr. Hood said.

Both doctors said the most important thing to do right now is call your pediatrician if you are in need of formula, or if you have any questions about swapping brands.

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