Infant formula shortage leads to empty shelves, stressed families

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Many families are finding empty shelves when trying to buy infant formula.

A combination of factors is contributing to the nationwide shortage, from supply-chain challenges to a product recall in mid-February. Some retailers like Walgreens are even limiting the amount of formula each customer can buy.

“It’s stressful,” said Dr. Krishnan Subrahmanian, a pediatrician at Hennepin Healthcare.

Dr. Subrahmanian says he has heard from several families, all saying the same thing.

“They say, ‘I’ve been to five or six stores, and I’m seeing empty shelves.’ And there is a little bit of panic going on,” he said.

Medical experts say families can try things like ordering online instead of going to the store, consider using approved substitutions, and check with their insurance provider for additional supplies.

Dr. Subrahmanian says the best advice for parents is don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“Don’t feel like you need to take this on your own,” Dr. Subrahmaniansaid, adding, “don’t make your own or water it down because it can be dangerous if we try and change the recipe or formula.”

It’s unclear how long the shortage will last. Manufacturers are ramping up production to make up the difference, but it could still be several weeks before shoppers notice a difference on the shelves.