May 23, 2022 - News

Baby formula shortage hurts Pennsylvanians

Data: Datasembly; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The nationwide baby formula shortage is hitting Pennsylvania hard, with families scrambling to feed their children and many stores limiting the amount you can buy.

What's happening: Nearly half of expected baby formula stock was missing from Pennsylvania shelves as of the first week of May, according to Datasembly, a retail software company. Nationally, that number is around 43%.

State of play: Roughly 3 in 4 babies in the U.S. are fed formula by 6 months old — meaning the shortage could jeopardize food security for most children, Axios' Nathan Bomey writes.

  • A number of issues are to blame, from supply chain disruptions to a recent recall that led to the temporary closure of an Abbott Nutrition formula plant.

Meanwhile, retailers like CVS, Target and Walgreens have put nationwide limits on the number of baby formula purchases per person.

  • ShopRite is limiting purchases of baby formula to four items per customer. The supermarket chain is working with suppliers to secure more formula, spokesperson Maureen Gillespie told Axios.

Zoom in: The formula shortage is not affecting all families equally, said Katie Lockwood, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Primary Care.

  • Families without access to transportation are likely unable to visit multiple stores in search of formula.

Plus: Some infants are restricted to certain formulas due to medical needs, like those with food allergies or digestive issues.

  • "For those families, it is very scary to think about a shortage and not having that formula because you don't have many alternatives," Lockwood said.

What's ahead: Some relief could be on the way. Abbott Nutrition reached an agreement with the FDA last week to reopen its infant formula plant, which will increase the supply of baby formula, Axios' Herb Scribner writes.

  • Also: The U.S.' first shipment of Nestlé baby formula imports from Europe arrived in Indiana yesterday to help alleviate the shortage. More shipments are on the way.

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