(KCAU) — On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced measures to help address the formula shortage that has been giving parents anxiety for several months. On Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) release several tips for struggling parents.  

According to the AAP, children under 12 months should not drink cow’s milk; however, a recent release by Steven Abrams, M.D., F.A.A.P with the AAP stated that whole milk can be used as an alternative to formula if the infant is 6 months old or older.  

The release specified that cow’s milk for infants between 6 to 12 months should only be used if there are no other options and should not become a routine. Feeding infants cow’s milk does not supply enough iron which could result in anemia.

If using cow’s milk becomes necessary, parents should include plenty of iron-containing foods in their child’s diet. There is no set limit for children under 12 months, but children over 12 months should be given no more than 24 ounces of cow’s milk a day.  

The release encouraged parents to always talk with their pediatrician before seeking alternatives such as cow’s milk, especially if the infant has special health needs. 

To view further alternatives provided by Dr. Abrams with AAP, view the press release here.  

The FDA first announced the voluntary recall of Abbott powdered formulas on February 17, 2022, after supply shortages had already been affecting the production of powdered formulas. The recalled formulas produced at Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan facility ceased production, leading the FDA to form an Incident Management Group (IMG) in April which was said to work on supply chain and food safety issues.  

On Monday, the FDA provided updates in the form of press releases on the formula crisis, stating that inspection of the Sturgis facility has led to a proposed permanent injunction between the FDA and Abbott Nutrition and its three principles.  

“Today’s action means that Abbott Nutrition has agreed to address certain issues that the agency identified at their infant formula production facility in Michigan,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D., “The public should [be] rest assured that the agency will do everything possible to continue ensuring that infant and other specialty formulas produced by the company meet the FDA’s safety and quality standards, which American consumers have come to expect and deserve.”  

According to one of the press releases from the FDA, the recall resulted from unsanitary conditions at the Sturgis facility, so the agreement between Abbott and the FDA will ensure that an independent expert will review the facility’s operations to ensure testing product requirements and compliance with the law. These guidance measures will be in effect until November 14, and evaluations will determine whether any extensions will be necessary. 

The release indicated that these measures are intended to increase the production of formula along with the other steps that the FDA has taken to address the formula shortage. The release cited Information Resources Inc. (IRI), stating that all other infant formula manufacturers have been producing formula at an expanded capacity. The IRI reported that the increased production of formula by other manufacturers has increased the sale of infant formula, but there is still a concern regarding specialty formulas.  

“We recognize that many consumers have been unable to access infant formula and critical medical foods they are accustomed to using and are frustrated by their inability to do so,” said Dr. Califf, “We are doing everything in our power to ensure there is adequate production available where and when they need it.”  

An additional release from the FDA stated that since production and distribution by trading partners have decreased resulting in shortages in the U.S., the FDA has sought alternatives. The FDA is now encouraging the importation of safe infant formula from other countries. The release indicated that 98% of the formula consumed in the United States is manufactured within the nation using supplies that are imported, which has since experienced distribution complications.  

“The FDA is leaving no stone unturned to further increase the availability of infant formula. We are doing everything in our power as part of the all-of-government efforts to ensure there’s adequate product available wherever and whenever parents and caregivers need it. Today’s action paves the way for companies who don’t normally distribute their infant formula to the U.S. to do so efficiently and safely. We are hopeful this call to the global market will be answered and the international businesses will rise to the occasion to assist in bolstering the supply of products that serve as the sole source of nutrition for many infants. With these flexibilities in place, we anticipate that those products that can quickly meet safety and nutrition standards could hit U.S. stores in a matter of weeks.”  

FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D.

The FDA indicated in the releases that they anticipate increased formula supply in the coming months and will continue to provide updates on this “dynamic situation.” It was stated that the agency will continue to dedicate all available resources to ensuring formula products are safe and available for use.