San Antonio has the nation’s highest rate of baby formula shortages, according to retail data

One of the nation's top formula producers wants to restart a closed plant, but it still may take six weeks or more to increase supplies.

click to enlarge Abbott Nutrition halted production at its Sturgis, Michigan plant in February after Similac products were recalled. - FLICKR / AJAY_SURESH
Flickr / ajay_suresh
Abbott Nutrition halted production at its Sturgis, Michigan plant in February after Similac products were recalled.
Following a February recall of baby formula, San Antonio is experiencing the highest rate of shortages in the product, the New York Times reports, citing data from retail software firm Datasembly.

The Alamo City was a focus of the Times' article chronicling the national shortage, which the paper says is leaving parents “scrambling to feed their children.” According to Datasembly information cited in the piece, 56% of San Antonio's normal supplies of baby formula were depleted as of Tuesday, May 10.

"The shortage has been a challenge for families across the country, but it is especially palpable at grocery stores and food banks in San Antonio ... where many mothers lack health insurance and work at low-wage jobs that give them little opportunity to breastfeed," the Times reports.

San Antonio nonprofits are having trouble replenishing their supplies for mothers unable to find it on grocery shelves, according to the article.

Formula manufacturer Abbott Nutrition halted production at its Sturgis, Michigan plant in February after Similac, Alimentum and EleCare products were recalled over bacterial infections that led to two infant deaths.

Abbott said it's increasing production at other U.S. plants and also shipping products from its facility in Ireland. The Food and Drug Administration has suggested that panic buying may be exacerbating the problem as the company tries to keep up.

"Notably, more infant formula was purchased in the month of April than in the month prior to the recall," FDA officials said in a statement Tuesday.

Abbott says it plans to restart production at the Michigan plant as soon as the FDA gives the green light, ABC News reported Thursday. However, it still may take six to eight weeks until new formula products become available. Nationwide labor shortages and global supply chain issues are still a thing, after all.

“We deeply regret the situation and since the recall, we’ve been working to increase supply at our other FDA-registered facilities, including bringing in Similac from our site in Cootehill, Ireland, by air and producing more liquid Similac and Alimentum,” Abbott said in a statement Wednesday. “We also began releasing metabolic formulas that were on hold earlier this month at FDA’s request to those who need these unique formulas.”

Though a quick resolution to the shortage appears unlikely, experts warn caregivers not to dilute baby formula or create DIY versions.

Watering down formula can lead to nutritional deficiencies and be life-threatening for young children, according to FDA guidelines. Feeding homemade formula to a baby can also lead to injury or even death if the nutrient amounts are insufficient.

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