Posted 3 days ago
Parents in Tennessee are the hardest-hit by the baby formula shortage, new data obtained by DailyMail.com shows - with those in Joe Biden's home state of Delaware coming a close second.
The scale of the crisis is revealed in the new analysis, which shows that only 43 percent of the usual national supply of baby formula is available.
In Tennessee, 54 percent of the state's usual supply is out of stock, in Delaware the figure is 54 percent and in Texas it is 52 percent.
Montana and Nevada were also hard-hit by the crisis.
On the other end of the scale, Colorado was reporting the fewest problems, with 26 percent of the usual supply being out of stock.
New Mexico and Indiana were the only other states to have supply issues at less than 30 percent.
The data, captured during the first week in May, was obtained from Datasembly, which collects real-time data from 11,000 grocery stores nationwide to calculate the shortages per state.
The situation this week is likely to be significantly worse, as parents panic-buy supplies and yet more stores run out of the products.
The problem began earlier this year, when a Michigan-based factory was found to have flouted Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hygiene procedures, and four babies were hospitalized after eating contaminated formula, with one dying.
A spokesman for Abbott, which produces formula at the plant, denied that the bacteria had come from their factory.
'After a thorough review of all available data, there is no evidence to link our formulas to these infant illnesses,' the spokesman told DailyMail.com on Wednesday.
Yet the factory remains shut, and the heavily consolidated industry - already struggling with supply chain issues as a result of the pandemic - has been unable to compensate.
One Tennessee mother, Wynter Balthrop, said that she and her husband 'went to six different stores and searched and called multiple others as far as three hours away from us — and we were not able to find one can or bottle of her formula.'
Nutramigen was and is the only formula that her baby is able to tolerate.
She told Fox News Digital that, when she was unable to find the specific formula, she gave her daughter a generic one, which made her sick.
'I broke down in the car,' she said.
'I was panicking and sad for my girl because we had enough formula left to make one bottle — and I knew we would have to use the generic formula that hurt her stomach again. And that broke my heart.
'I mean, it just wasn't fair to her.
'But we had no other options.'
She said she is now stockpiling as much as she can at her home in Gallatin, 30 miles from Nashville.
'We are now grabbing every can or ready-to-feed bottle we see, while also trying not to be greedy and leave some for others.'
She said that there was rising panic among mothers.
'I've seen the fear in their eyes over the empty shelves at stores.'
Biden on Thursday met with executives from two large producers of baby formula - Gerber and Reckitt - to discuss how they could increase production and how his administration could help.
He also talked with leaders from Walmart and Target about how to restock shelves and address regional disparities in access to formula, the White House said.
The administration plans to monitor possible price gouging and work with trading partners in Mexico, Chile, Ireland and the Netherlands on imports - even though 98 percent of baby formula is domestically made.
Meanwhile, the shortage became politicized as Republicans including the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, criticized the Biden administration for providing baby formula to babies in detention at the U. S.-Mexico border.
Florida Congresswoman Kat Cammack, a Republican, tweeted two images on Thursday, protesting at the formula being sent to the border.
One image showed full shelves of baby formula and food from a processing center at the southern border; the second was showing empty shelves where baby formula was supposed to be at an American grocery store.
'The first photo is from this morning at the Ursula Processing Center at the U. S. border. Shelves and pallets packed with baby formula,' Cammack wrote.
'The second is from a shelf right here at home. Formula is scarce.
'This is what America last looks like,' she added.
The problem is the result of supply chain disruptions and a safety recall, and has had a cascade of effects: Retailers are limiting what customers can buy, and doctors and health workers are urging parents to contact food banks or physicians' offices, in addition to warning against watering down formula to stretch supplies or using online DIY recipes.
The shortage is weighing particularly on lower-income families after the recall by formula maker Abbott, stemming from contamination concerns.
The recall wiped out many brands covered by WIC, a federal program like food stamps that serves women, infants and children, though the program now permits brand substitutes.
The Biden administration is reportedly working with states to make it easier for WIC recipients to buy different sizes of formula that their benefits might not currently cover.
About half of infant formula nationwide is purchased by participants using WIC benefits, according to the White House.
Belle Holmes, like many other parents, is struggled to find her six-month-old's preferred formula brand amid the nationwide shortage.
'We have had to switch brands three times and each one has eventually gone out of stock,' she told DailyMail.com.
Her son suffers from a 'severe dairy allergy' which makes it significantly harder to provide him with the proper nutrients he needs.
She also has to worry about adverse reactions caused by exposure to allergens.
Holmes shared photographs of her son's back covered in a rash that she has linked to consuming a new brand of formula.
Additionally, the concerned mother explained that she cannot turn to breast feeding because she 'could not keep up with his demand' and was worried she 'would severely impact him' if she consumed any dairy whatsoever.
'We are on the last brand we can find and are nervous about what will happen next,' she added.
Jillian and Chris Arroyo, of Falls Church, Virginia, have called on legislators to take action after Jillian was forced to resume breastfeeding amid the formula shortage.
'Our daughter needs this formula. Kids rely on this formula to survive,' Chris added, criticizing a remark made by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday.
'Based on yesterday's briefing by the White House, it seems like the attitude in general is to keep letting the FDA call the shots.
'Jen Psaki said the FDA is "working around the clock to address any possible shortage."
'The problem is - it's not a possible shortage. It's a very real shortage, and leaving this in the FDA's court is not solving the problem.'
Jillian, adding to her husband's remarks, shared how she was forced to resume pumping and breastfeeding in an effort to feed their daughter Ellie, 21 months.
The concerned mother said the switch off of formula 'limited the feasibility of my returning to the workplace' and that she ultimately took a new job that was permanently work-from-home.
'I needed to be available to my daughter during this time and remove the stress and pressure around returning to the office,' she said.
However, Ellie's return to breast milk was anything but smooth sailing.
'Our daughter has reacted to foods through my breastmilk since birth.
'After extensive food journaling and trial and error, I eliminated all the problem foods from my diet,' Jillian explained.
'We figured we’d be good to go, introduce her to solid foods, and wean her from breastmilk by her first birthday - the typical course.
'Ellie’s journey has been anything but typical, and I breastfed on this elimination diet long past her first birthday until we finally found Elecare Jr.
'Once she'd been stable on her new formula for a few months, we made the decision to wean, and on February 12th, I nursed Ellie for what I thought was the last time.
'For six days I ate and drank whatever I wanted, carefree, with the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders.
'I was no longer the primary nutrition source for our medically challenging daughter, I no longer had to think about my own food intake around the clock, and I could eat and enjoy whatever I wanted. It was a really joyous week.'
She continued: 'Six days later, we learned about the recall. I'm back on this diet for the foreseeable future.
'Until Ellie's formula is back in production, or we find a suitable alternative that she can tolerate, I am unable to eat dairy, wheat, soy, oats, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, or tomatoes.
'The last time I saw my own doctor, she sarcastically told me it was kind of me to donate my skeleton to my daughter.
'It may have been sarcastic, but it was deeply rooted in truth - women who breastfeed are already at risk of nutritional deficits bec... (Read more)