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In-Depth: The baby formula shortage explained

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Posted at 6:41 PM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 18:41:49-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX18) — The baby formula shortage is impacting families nationwide and experts say it could go on for another ten weeks, here's why.

Data from research company Datasembly looks at the baby formula stock across the country. It shows in April 2022, baby formula shortages hit 30% and jumped to 40% at the end of the month.

What Happened:

One of the biggest manufacturers American companies use closed one of their plants.

"The FDA got tip offs from consumers that a couple of infants have gotten bacterially ill from using baby formula, two, unfortunately, that died. So a real tragedy. The FDA inspected the factory, they weren't able to find that bacteria in any of the Abbott products. Abbott is the manufacturer. But they did find other bacteria and a host of other serious safety issues. So they had to shut the factory down period," said Peter Pitts, President of the Center for Medine in the Public Interest, and former FDA Associate Commissioner.

Pitts says it's caused such a disruption because Abbott supplies a large majority of the products. He says 95% of US supplies are from manufacturers in the US.

"The long-term problem is you have a variety of products manufactured by a few companies, and one goes offline for any type of reason, shortages can happen," said Pitts.

Pitts says the reason it's so bad is the public wasn't giving due heads up.

"The plant closure happened in February so they should've let parents know that this might be forthcoming so parents could plan for it, expect it, talk to pediatricians, look for options. That didn't happen. What happened was parents went to the market one day, the shelves were bare, and they panicked," said Pitts.


Pitts says the shortage could go on for as far out as 10 weeks. He feels the best way to mitigate something like this happening in the future is for the FDA to be in regular communication with the companies to properly warn the public about issues and increase safety inspections.

Tips for Now:

  • See if your church or local non-profit has options
  • Talk to your pediatrician 
  • Don't make your own
  • Don't buy from risky online sellers
  • Don't hoard
  • Connect with other moms on social media

Fact Sheet: Helping Families Find Formula During the Infant Formula Shortage |