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Moms Donate Breastmilk to Human Milk Bank to Help Families in Dire Need Amid Formula Shortage

Moms Donate Breastmilk to Human Milk Bank to Help Families in Dire Need Amid Formula Shortage

Now that Abbott has restarted production, they issued a statement assuring to ramp production as soon as possible.

In what can only be described as a nightmare, at the start of May 2022, 43% of baby formula was out of stock at retailers, according to Datasembly, a product data firm. 

The crisis began when Abbott Laboratories, popularly known for their baby formulas, closed a manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan. It recalled infant formula products when a federal investigation started after four babies taking the formula developed bacterial infections, two of whom died, according to The Guardian

However, Abbott has said there is no link between its formula and the illnesses.

Baby formula was already being affected by pandemic-related supply chain problems, but the plant's closure “really exacerbated things”, said Dr. Christopher Duggan, director of the Center for Nutrition at Boston children’s hospital.

Hillary Demmon, who has a 1-year-old and works at the University of Pittsburgh, felt really bad after reading about the shortage. Soon, she realized she could do something about it.

"I realized I have a deep freeze full of milk, and I'm still pumping," Demmon said, according to CNN. She decided to start pumping exclusively so she could donate to a local milk bank. "I figured this is something that I can tangibly do in this nightmare timeline we are living in right now to concretely help some other families," she said.

Not only Demmon, but several moms have also come forward to help and donate milk for those in need, as per lactation experts.

"Milk banks are in dire need because there are so many premature formulas that are not available for sick infants," said Dr. Sheela Rath Geraghty, medical director of the Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic at Cincinnati Children's. "We are asking every mother with extra milk to please donate it to a human milk bank."



 

 

However, donated milk has to be screened before it can be given to babies. "No woman should ever attempt to give milk directly to another woman's baby," she said.

In the screening process that Demmon underwent, she had to discuss her health and the medicines and supplements she was taking. The milk bank will get in touch with her OB/GYN and her child's pediatrician for additional screening. She will also undergo a blood test and an initial donation of 50 to 100 ounces of milk. The Mid-Atlantic Mothers' Milk Bank will run further tests to make sure there's nothing in the milk that could put a medically fragile infant at risk.

"As long as everything's good at that point, then I can start doing my ongoing donation," Demmon said.

Basically, milk banks collect milk from multiple donors or individual donors before pasteurizing and putting it in small containers that can be frozen for up to a year. 

Meanwhile, the latest updates show that the manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan has restarted the production of EleCare and other specialty and metabolic formulas. EleCare products are expected to be released around June 20, per NBC News.



 

 

"We’re also working hard to fulfill the steps necessary to restart production of Similac and other formulas and will do so as soon as we can," an Abbott spokesperson said. "We understand the urgent need for formula, and our top priority is getting high-quality, safe formula into the hands of families across America."

"We will ramp production as quickly as we can while meeting all requirements," the Abbott spokesperson said. "We’re committed to safety and quality and will do everything we can to re-earn the trust parents, caregivers and health care providers have placed in us for 130 years."

Hopefully, this will put an end to the formula shortage. 

References:

https://datasembly.com/news/out-of-stock-rate-in-april-2022-copy/

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/18/baby-formula-shortage-why-is-there-none-what-to-do-causes-explained

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/05/31/health/breastmilk-donation-formula-shortage-wellness/index.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/abbott-nutrition-restarts-production-infant-formula-nationwide-shortag-rcna31985

Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | zubada

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