Infant Formula Shortage: Why It’s Happening and What Parents Can Do

Infant Formula Shortage: Why It’s Happening and What Parents Can Do

  • At least 40 percent of infant formula is out of stock.
  • The Biden administration says it is working to address the shortage.
  • Over 40 percent of baby formula is currently out of stock across the country, according to Datasembly.

The issue behind the formula shortage is two-fold. First is the widespread supply chain issue due to the pandemic, which has affected everything from cars to Nutella.

To make matters worse, in February, the FDA closed Abbott Nutrition’s Michigan factory after Abbott voluntarily recalled brands of its formula. The formula was tied to a bacterial infection that was linked to the deaths of at least two infants.

Abbott produces Similac, a routine milk-based formula, as well as Similac Advance and other specialty formulas for babies with certain allergies.

How the government is responding to the crisis

President Joe Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act in an effort to ramp up production of infant formula amid the shortage.

The efforts include speeding up the production of infant formula and authorizing flights to bring in a supply from abroad.

This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced they have come to an agreement with Abbott.

Under a proposed consent decree, the company will take corrective actions proposed by the FDA, including having an independent expert review their facility operations and testing requirements.

This will allow them to reopen the closed factory soon.

In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, President Biden has instructed both agencies to help the Pentagon to identify formula from abroad that meets the standards of the U.S.

This is to be carried out over the next week.

Chartered Defense Department flights will then begin bringing formula to stock the shelves and fill the orders in the United States. This will help to close the gap until production can get back to regular levels at home.

The House of Representatives has passed two bills to address the shortage, as well.

One allows the Agriculture Secretary to waive requirements for the special supplement nutrition program for lower income women, infants, and children, which is known as WIC.

This bill requires formula manufacturers have contingency plans for protecting against supply disruptions.

The second bill is to provide an additional $28 million to the FDA to help pull recalled formula products off the shelves and enhance FDA inspection staff.

Both bills are headed to the Senate.

The FDA said in a statement Monday that they are also talking with other companies that make infant formula, including Gerber, about increasing production.

“Gerber has reported that it increased the amount of their infant formula available to consumers by approximately 50 percent in March and April and Reckitt is supplying more than 30 percent more product year to date,” the FDA said in the statement. The FDA also said they will take other steps to try and increase access to formula, including expediting certain certificates in order for formula supply from abroad to be sold in the U.S.

What does the formula shortage mean for parents?

“This has led to parents struggling to find appropriate formulas for their kids. They are traveling out of their geographic areas and ordering products online, where not everything meets the same standards as formulas produced in the U.S.,” said Dr. Matthew Harris, who practices in pediatric emergency medicine, emergency medical services, and pediatrics at Northwell Health’s Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York.

Rebecca Romero, RD, LD, CLC, on the clinical nutrition and lactation team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, said parents are having difficulty getting enough formula to feed their children.

“Due to the infant formula shortage, parents are facing the very serious problem of not having enough formula available to feed their children,” added Romero. “Many stores are having supply issues and parents are being forced to drive store to store to find their child’s formula. Additionally, we are seeing an increase in families preparing homemade formula or mixing foods not intended for infants with formula, which can be very risky and compromise the developing infant’s health.”

What to look for during the formula shortage

If your child uses a standard, milk-based powdered formula, several alternatives are available besides Abbott’s recalled formulas.

For children taking a specific formula, such as one for a milk protein allergy, experts recommend looking for a similar, alternative formula for what their child is currently taking.

It is important to select a FDA-approved formula, meaning it meets safety standards and is specifically designed to provide appropriate nutrition for infants. If parents are unsure of what product would be considered a safe alternative, they should talk to their child’s healthcare provider or dietitian for guidance,” said Romero. Harris noted that other companies, like Enfamil, for example, or other U.S.-produced milk-based formulas have very little difference and would be considered safe to use as an alternative.

“As a father of an infant who has a milk protein allergy, which is very common, they cannot take standard formulas, which are all increasingly difficult to find in powdered form,” he said. “We have been successful finding liquid formulas on Amazon; however, these liquid-based formulas can be more expensive for families facing financial distress.”

Right now, parents can also look at ordering online from known entities, like Amazon, Walmart, and CVS.

What parents should avoid

While this is incredibly stressful for parents as they try to provide appropriate nutrition for their children, experts emphasize that parents should avoid diluting formula or ordering products from unknown online retailers.

“What we want to avoid is parents extending the life of the powder formula by adding water and diluting it,” said Harris. “That is not good for children because it causes low sodium, and that can lead to seizures, which can be life-threatening. Never dilute formula, hard stop.”

Another tip is to not order formulas from websites that may not deliver products certified in the United States. Formulas produced in the U.S. that use a typical 20 calorie-per-ounce, milk-based formula have very little difference from each other.

Harris also recommends double checking any Similac product that parents do happen to find to make sure it’s not part of the recall.

“There are still products on the shelves that are part of the recall that may not have been taken down,” he said.

The FDA has also issued warnings against using homemade formula since it isn’t regulated and can be contaminated or lack key nutrients. In a 2021 warning, the FDA said some infants fed homemade formula were hospitalized due to low calcium.

“These problems are very serious, and the consequences range from severe nutritional imbalances to foodborne illnesses, both of which can be life-threatening,” the FDA said in the 2021.

What to know about the recalled products

If parents do happen to find Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare powdered infant formula products, here is what they can check to ensure it is not recalled:

  • the first two digits of the code are 22 through 37
  • the code on the container contains K8, SH, or Z2
  • the expiration date is 4-1-2022 (APR 2022) or later

In addition, Abbott Nutrition has recalled Similac PM 60/40 with a lot code of 27032K80 (can) / 27032K800 (case). Parents can also enter the product lot code on the company’s website to check.

“As healthcare providers, we are aware of the severity of this shortage and how it is impacting families,” said Romero. “Providers are working closely with families daily to help provide support and guidance to ensure their children are receiving appropriate and adequate formula. Families should make sure to talk to their child’s healthcare provider or dietitian if guidance is needed.”

Contributor: Meagan Drillinger,

Study Supports Colonoscopies for Women Under 50

Study Supports Colonoscopies for Women Under 50

Claremont Colonic Newsletter
Colonoscopies in Younger Women Can Significantly Cut Their Risk of Colon Cancer, a New Study Claims.
“While there’s been an alarming increase in the incidence of colorectal cancer in recent decades in younger individuals, screening has largely been focused on people over 50,” noted senior study author Dr. Andrew Chan, a gastroenterologist and epidemiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. While the overall number of colon cancer cases has declined, the rate among people younger than 50 rose by 51% between 1974 and 2013.

In recent years, the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have recommended colon cancer screening begin at age 45.

Chan and his colleagues analyzed data from nearly 112,000 U.S. women in the Nurses’ Health Study II. They found that women who started screening at age 45 had a 50% to 60% lower risk of developing colon cancer than those who had no screening.

Also, those who started screening at ages 45 to 49 had much lower rates of colon cancer through age 60 than those who began screening at ages 50 to 54, according to the study.

While the findings are from women, the same benefits likely apply to men, according to Chan.

“Our work provides first-of-its-kind data to show that initiating screening at a younger age can reduce an individual’s risk of colorectal cancer and the population’s overall incidence of cancer, thus demonstrating the substantial impact of earlier screening on both individual and population-wide scales,” Chan said in a hospital news release.

The findings were published May 5 in the journal JAMA Oncology.

Colonoscopy is an invasive procedure, but noninvasive stool-based screening tests are also available. “Any trepidation that clinicians might have had about the effectiveness of CRC [colon cancer] screening at a younger age will hopefully be allayed by these results,” Chan said.

“Our data show that we have an effective tool to address the epidemic of colorectal cancer among younger adults, and hopefully this will encourage physicians to have a conversation about screening with their younger patients which, in turn, will motivate them to follow through and get screened,” he said.

More information:

There’s more about colon cancer screening at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Contributor: Robert Preidt U.S. News & World Report

Everything You Need to Know to Fight Sunburns, Premature Aging and Skin Cancer This Summer

Everything You Need to Know to Fight Sunburns, Premature Aging and Skin Cancer This Summer

Claremont Colonic Clinic Newsletter
The bright red spot, tender skin, days of peeling — it’s only part of the sun damage story.
Sunburns are the most immediately annoying evidence of too much time spent unprotected in the sun, but what we often don’t see right away is the accelerated skin aging and risk of skin cancer that can go along with them.

“Unfortunately, skin cancer rates are still rising, and we do everything we can to try to minimize that, and using sunscreen is one component of that,” said Dr. Darrell Rigel, clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York City.

The Environmental Working Group released its annual guide to sunscreen use Thursday, with lists of its recommended sunscreens, including options for kids, mineral and nonmineral varieties, and moisturizers and lip balms with SPF. The EWG does not make revenue from these lists, according to a spokesperson.

The guide comes in time for the warmer months, as many people begin to spend more time outside, but good sun protection is important even if it’s cool or cloudy, and whether you are sitting by a window, out skiing, or at the beach, dermatologists said.

“Obviously, summertime we are more exposed to more sun, but any given day we should be conscious of the fact that ultraviolet radiation is an established, well-known carcinogen, aside from the fact that it can accelerate the aging of skin,” said Dr. Adam Friedman, professor and chair of the department of dermatology at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Who needs it?

Short answer: everyone.

Longer answer: Darker skin does provide more protection against the sun, but that doesn’t mean it is completely immune to sun damage, the experts said.

According to US data, people of color are at a lower risk for melanoma than White people, but they still face a risk, Rigel said.

And if you look up images of a sunburn, you are likely to see the condition’s bright red marks on pale skin, but that has to do with a lack of representation, Friedman said. Sunburns can appear on all skin types — in many colors — and can result in premature aging for anyone.

The problem is that representation is also limited in sun protection. Even on light skin, sunscreen often goes on thick, heavy and too white. For people of color, it’s still more problematic.

“There’s not one product that is going to be appropriate for everyone,” Friedman said. “Finding one that plays nice on the skin is not always easy.”

Fortunately, some mineral-based sunscreens are coming out with lines that are tinted to try to match skin tones, but Friedman said it’s important to shop around and find one that feels good and matches your complexion, so that you will use it regularly. Some mineral-based sunscreens also go on clear.

“The best sunscreen is the one you will use again and again and again,” he said.

How to apply

One application should use about an ounce — or one shot glassful — of sunscreen, said Carla Burns, EWG’s senior director for cosmetic science.

“We recommend opting for lotions (over) stick products, it is a lot easier to get that adequate even layer of protection,” she added.

There are two types of sunscreens, Rigel said, the kind you use every day and those you use when you plan to spend prolonged time outside.

In everyday wear, Friedman recommended finding products that double up as moisturizers or makeup with SPF to ensure that you make sun protection an easy part of your routine.

If you are heading out for a day in the sun, Burns said it’s important to remember to reapply your sunscreen every two hours — or after playing in the water — to maintain the right level of protection.

In either case, sun protection should go anywhere that skin is exposed to the sun — that could mean your face, hands, ears or the part in your hair. And your lips and the surfaces around your eyes are thin and vulnerable to sun damage, so make sure they have SPF protection, too, Friedman said.

What SPF to look for

“You want at least an SPF 35 — that’s a minimum,” Rigel said.

But is there a maximum? Well, that is where the experts differed in their advice.

The EWG recommended against really high SPF sunscreens, saying that they can mislead people into thinking that they can be out in the sun for a longer period of time without reapplying.

And no, you can’t stay out longer if you have on an SPF 100, Rigel agreed. But he said he often recommends his patients opt for the higher number as a safety net.

What to look for on the label

There is no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen, so Rigel said to look for a water-resistant product instead.

And when it comes to fighting premature aging and skin cancer — not just sunburn — it’s crucial to make sure that your sunscreen has broad spectrum UVA/UVB coverage, Friedman said.

The EWG recommends mineral-based sunscreens. The ingredients to look for to find those products are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, Burns said.

Are there ingredients to avoid?

Some nonmineral sunscreens use an ingredient called oxybenzone, which has been linked in some studies to harm to marine life.

Some countries and regions have prohibited the sale of products containing oxybenzone in the past few years due to environmental concerns, Burns said.

What reinforcements to add

Sunscreens are helpful tools to protect against sun damage and skin cancer, but they are not the only ones.

When possible, it can also be helpful to wear a hat, cover with clothing, avoid hours when the sun is at its peak (from 10 a.m to 4 p.m.) and stay in the shade, said Emily Spilman, a science analyst for the healthy living team at the EWG.

Contributor: By Madeline Holcombe, CNN

7 Skin Cancer Warning Signs You Should Never Ignore

7 Skin Cancer Warning Signs You Should Never Ignore

Claremont Colonic Newsletter

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Doctors share the signs and symptoms of melanoma and other skin cancers to watch out for.

It’s time to think about the skin you’re in. Recent research from the American Academy of Dermatology found melanoma rates in the United States doubled from 1988 to 2019, and melanoma diagnoses worldwide are expected to increase 50% by 2040.

While that percentage may scare you, skin cancer is curable if spotted early, though doctors stress that patients need to be a partner in the process.

“Everyone should get really familiar with their own moles because that’s what’s going to save your life,” Dr. Julie Karen, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, told TODAY.

What should you look for? The ABCDEs of melanoma are basic signs, with doctors urging you to check your moles for asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolution.

The most important part is that last one: an evolving or changing mole, Karen said. That can include new symptoms like itching, scabbing and bleeding.

Your doctor should be checking areas of your body where you may not even realize you can get skin cancer, including the scalp, eyelids, between your fingers and toes, and behind the ears, said Dr. Debra Wattenberg, a New York dermatologist and founder of NY Skin RX.

Here are seven warning signs never to ignore:

1. You notice an ‘ugly duckling’ mole.

Pay attention to a mole that doesn’t look like any of the others on your body, or is the lone mole on an otherwise spot-free part of your anatomy.

“A lot of people have moles that look sort of scary, but they’ve got 20 of them on their arm or their back,” Wattenberg said. “And then they have one that’s totally different looking. Usually, it’s the ‘ugly duckling’ — the one that stands out — that’s problematic.”

Moles you’re born with can develop into skin cancer, she added. And just because you have a new mole, it doesn’t mean it will it turn out bad, but we get fewer new moles as we get older.

2. There’s a vertical dark streak on your nail.

“People often don’t think that you can get melanomas of the nail,” Karen said. But as one woman who lived with a dark streak under her nail for 10 years can attest, it is possible.

The cancer can look like a pigmented black or brown streak extending the length of your nail. Or it can be mistaken for a blood blister that stays towards the base of the nail, the cuticle area, and never grows out.

Remove nail polish from your toes and fingers when you go for your skin check, Wattenberg advised. It’ll help your doctor find any linear streaks that could be melanoma, or bumps that could be basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer.

3. You experience vision problems.

Ocular melanoma is the most common primary eye cancer in adults, diagnosed in 2,500 U.S. adults every year, according to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation. Most eye melanomas occur in the middle layer of the eye, called the uvea, and are not visible when looking in the mirror, per Mayo Clinic.

Less than half of patients will actually have symptoms, said Dr. Sapna Patel, a melanoma oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. If you do have them, they may show up as blurry vision, a speck of what seems like dust in your eye, a growing dark spot on the iris, a change in the shape of your pupil or a loss of peripheral vision.

4. You have a ‘pimple’ that won’t go away.

Basal or squamous cell skin cancer can look like a pimple that doesn’t clear up or go away after a few weeks, a sore that won’t heal or a scab that keeps recurring.

The “pimple” also may go away and come right back in the same spot, and it won’t have pus when you squeeze it, Wattenberg noted.

5. You notice a mole on the sole of your foot.

Many people have benign spots on the soles of their feet or the palms of their hands, but they should be checked out, especially if the mole is new or changing.

The problem is that people often don’t think to look for moles on the bottom of their feet and many aren’t limber enough to check there, Patel noted.

6. You experience changes after having a mole removed.

If you’ve had a mole removed and you start seeing pigmentation that’s extending outside the scar, that’s extremely concerning, even if the original mole was benign, Karen said. A mole that’s spreading beyond its initial footprint means it has now changed or progressed.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you spot a lump or a bump that occurs near the scar, or if you feel pain in that area.

7. There’s a black spot inside your cheek.

Another less-known location where you can get melanoma is in your mucous membranes, Patel said. That includes inside your cheek, nasal cavity, anal region and the vagina.

Contributor: By A. Pawlowski –