MINOT — The recent baby formula shortage has affected some patients at Trinity Health in Minot.
Dr. Diana Peterson, a pediatrician at Trinity, said the shortage, caused by a baby power manufacturing plant in Abbott, Michigan closing, has not affected those in Minot as badly as in other places across the country. The plant was primarily specialty formulas, so Dr. Peterson said that it has mainly affected children who need a special kind of formula.
“The problem was a lot of the specialty formulas,” Dr. Peterson explained, “the lactose-free formulas, and the ones in which the proteins are broken down. So, most of the people having problems here have been getting those specialty formulas.”
Due to the plant closure, several people had to switch to different brands which the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) does not cover, according to Dr. Peterson.
“Most people have still been able to find some to, at least, get by,” Dr. Peterson said. “There’s been a few that have been struggling, and they’ve called us to get help. Unfortunately, it’s just not available right now.”
Dr. Peterson addressed the issue of some people diluting formula.
“We’re really discouraging them from doing that,” said Dr. Peterson. “That can cause seizures and health issues for the kids. If you dilute the formula, they’re getting too much free water, and they can’t get rid of it, so it dilutes the electrolytes in their blood, and they can have seizures. If it says to do one scoop for two ounces, then that’s what you need to do.”
Dr. Peterson also discouraged other milks such as goat milk and plant-based milk.
“They’re all too low-calorie,” said Dr. Peterson. “A lot of them don’t have enough fat, so it just doesn’t meet the developmental needs of the kids. For the most part, we’re trying to find formula for the under 6-month crowd. The over 6-month crowd we’re encouraging them, if they can’t find their formula, to do milk, but milk doesn’t have enough iron and some of the vitamins, so we’re having people who are doing that to make sure they give a multi-vitamin with an iron.”
Dr. Peterson responded to people who make their own formula, saying, “The American Academy of Pediatrics is discouraging that. We, as a group here, are all older, we’ve seen lots of kids that do just fine on that. But the recipe you see online is the evaporated milk and the water and the Karo syrup, and they leave out the most important part of that. The most important part of that is the multi-vitamin and the iron be part of that every day.”
The multi-vitamin and iron can be put in with the formula or can be given separately, according to Dr. Peterson.
“A lot of people are upset because other countries aren’t having this because our formula is monitored by the FDA,” said Dr. Peterson. “It’s a safety thing. Because of the strict regulations, we can’t use formula from other countries. I think it’s a good thing.”
Dr. Peterson continued, “Hopefully in a couple of months, it will be resolved.”