Baby formula shortage: Pediatricians issue warning on dangers of substitutes

Amid the ongoing baby formula shortage, many parents are looking for alternatives.

For some parents, however, the shortage is having greater impact. Kristina Janes is worried about running out of specialized formula that her 4-month-old son needs. Her son is allergic to dairy, and has special dietary restrictions.

"We’re down to just 12 cans. That’s also through my pediatricians. We got samples from them as well," said Janes. "I don’t know, but we’re going to have to figure it out here real soon, because my son is just too young to start introducing other things."

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Pediatricians say for babies who do not have digestive issues, parents can use different formula brands. Parents are discouraged from diluting or making their own formulas.

"The reason being is infants need formula to be very, very precise. The amount of protein, fat, minerals, salts, it needs to be very precise," said Phoenix Children's Hospital Pediatrician Dr. Gary Kirkilas. "If you get that wrong, there’s a lot of risk. If it’s too much protein, there are issues with the kidney. If there’s not enough salt in the formula, you might have issues with the brain causing seizures."

Pediatricians also recommend breast milk from the mother or a donor.  Specialists say it is possible to start lactating again after stopping, or even induce lactation.

"A mother who has previously lactated, or a mother who has brought in any amount of milk are the best candidates, but literally, a mother can induce her milk for an adopted baby, even if she’s never had a pregnancy," said Rene Moore.

Breast milk is something Janes is now considering.

"Parents have to be able to feed their children," said Janes.