‘You can’t not feed your baby.’ Formula shortage a struggle for parents of infants with food allergies
Many parents are struggling to feed their babies amid a baby formula shortage, but it is especially difficult for parents with children who have food allergies or need specialized formula.
At just 6 weeks old, Maxton needs to eat every three hours. But he is allergic to cow’s milk and breast milk. Mother Francesca Mitchell found this out just days after bringing him home.
“He was having probably 10 to 15 dirty diapers a day, which is crazy. Acid reflux and colic symptoms, crying day and night,” Mitchell says.
Mitchell says that finding the specialized formula that Maxton needs is virtually impossible.
“I’m worried about him either getting sick from an allergic reaction or starving to death,” Mitchell says.
Maxton needs an amino acid-based formula called Puramino, but it is no longer on store shelves. Mitchell has had to find an alternative.
“This is Neocate, the replacement for the Puramino,” she says.
Mitchell received the replacement by chance from a food bank in Wisconsin called Hunger Task Force, which she emailed randomly.
“If not for them, I don’t really know what I would have done,” Mitchell says.
She says she is hoping for relief from the shipment of formula that was delivered to the United States from overseas – 70,000 pounds of specialized formula that will go directly to hospitals, doctor’s offices and pharmacies.
"This shipment provides enough formula to take care of 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for a week,” says United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
As for Mitchell, once her last can of Neocate is empty, her doctor has said to go back to the food that will give little Maxton acid reflux. She says in two weeks she'll be completely out of food.
"I just keep telling myself I'm not going to run out…I'll do what I have to do to find it. You can't not feed your baby,” Mitchell says.
Mitchell also says that she ordered Puramino directly from the company that makes it, but the order isn't expected to arrive until late June. She says she is finding It very hard to understand why it takes so long.