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Utah moms help each other find baby formula as shortage sweeps the nation

Posted at 9:25 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 00:28:52-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Amanda Clawson understands how thousands of moms are feeling right now.

"Our youngest baby, she had MSPI, which means she was allergic to all milk and soy proteins," she sais. "The only formula she could have was Similac Alimentum. It literally saved her life.”

Watching her friends with infants struggle to find formula, she knew she wanted to help. Clawson created a Facebook group called "Formula Shortage- Utah."

“I made it during my lunch break on Tuesday," she said. "And we have about 400 people on there already.”

Clawson stopped at local grocery stories, took photos of their formula sections and posted timestamps and prices.

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“Tons of people are on there taking pictures, like, 'This is where it's at,' and, 'does anybody need anything? You can Venmo me,'" she said. "'This one didn't work for my baby, there's only been a scoop out of it because I don't want it to go to waste but I can't donate it. Does anybody want to use it?'”

Bare store shelves also have moms looking for ways to make their own formula at home, most often using rice. However, homemade formulas can be deadly for babies, said Dr. Peter Lindgren, Pediatrician with the Intermountain Memorial Clinic.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the use of homemade formulas," he said. "These can actually be harmful, and there are cases of infants actually dying from the use of homemade formulas.”

Dr. Lindgren advises against using cow’s milk for infants too.

“That's something that we wouldn't recommend under the age of six months," he said. "It should only be used in some extreme circumstances for a substitution for formula.”

For many moms, breastfeeding isn’t an option either.

“Anytime you talk about any way to feed a baby, it doesn't matter what it is, you're going to get a mean comment," said Clawson. "And so many people think when they see this formula thing, I see most comments are, 'Well, why don't you just start to breastfeed again?' Or, 'Have you tried this or that?' It's not that simple. Babies are like us; they have very specific tastes. Their tummies can't also handle certain things, just like grown-ups can't.”

Watch: Lactation consultant, milk bank speak on impact of baby formula shortage:

Lactation consultant, milk bank speaks on baby formula shortage

FOX 13 News spoke to an international board certified lactation consultant, who says she's seen a big strain on mothers since the formula recall.

"I've had many mothers reach out and say hey if I'm capable can you help me make more milk so I can share it with my sister or my cousin or to the milk bank," said Jessica Clayton. "It really hits me close because they are taking something that their body alone can make during that time and sharing it others and mothers that are not capable."

Many Utah families are turning to mother's milk banks to help feed their babies, but one local milk bank says they've had to turn people away because they don't have enough supply to keep up with the surging demand.

"The best way people can help to kind of alleviate this tension all the way around is if they do have extra breast milk, is by donating it," said registered nurse clinical coordinator with Mountain West Mother's Milk Bank Mary Callahan. "This allows us to kind of help feed the babies in the hospital. That's our main priority. And then the more milk we have, the more milk we can provide to our outpatient program."

To learn more about lactation and breastfeeding efforts, click here.