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Encore: Nationwide shortage of baby formula is a major stressor for parents

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Biden spoke with retailers yesterday amid the shortage of baby formula. Here's White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JEN PSAKI: We're going to do everything we can to cut red tape and take steps to increase supply on the marketplace.

INSKEEP: NPR's Joe Hernandez reports on how the shortage has affected one family.

JOE HERNANDEZ, BYLINE: For the past three months, Chloe Banks and her husband have been struggling to buy formula for their 11-month-old son, Teddy.

CHLOE BANKS: It's incredibly stressful. It's endless, where you don't know where, you know, your next can of formula is going to come from.

HERNANDEZ: Teddy has a milk and soy protein allergy and needs a special kind of formula. Regular formulas are running low across the U.S., and so are specialized formulas for babies, including those with allergies or metabolic disorders.

Banks says, as a parent, it's difficult not to be able to get her son what he needs.

BANKS: Everything that we want to do is to take the best care of our children, and we're between a rock and a hard place because it's not like we have other sources.

HERNANDEZ: The retail analytics firm Datasembly collects information from thousands of stores across the country on how much baby formula they have out of stock. The first week of this month, it was at 43%. That's a lot higher than it was in November, when it was just 11%.

BENJAMIN GOLD: It is a real crisis and, in many cases, potentially life-threatening.

HERNANDEZ: Dr. Benjamin Gold is a pediatric gastroenterologist in Atlanta. Gold himself is working with manufacturers to help families get the formulas they need.

GOLD: Actually, my nurse is still on the phone with them right now to ship the formula to this family.

HERNANDEZ: One reason for the shortage is a recall of some baby formula made by Abbott earlier this year for possible bacterial contamination. Also, manufacturers haven't been able to get key ingredients because of supply chain disruptions. The White House says the Food and Drug Administration is working with manufacturers to help ramp up baby formula production.

For now, parents like Banks and her husband continue to spend hours looking for formula her son can tolerate. And she knows she's not the only one.

BANKS: And then you have, of course, in the back of your mind, there are other families who are doing the same thing. Are you taking this from a child who needs it, as well? Try not to be too greedy. But then if you're not greedy, you don't have enough for your child. It's just a really vicious cycle.

HERNANDEZ: A website run by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends contacting your pediatrician if you can't find your child's formula.

Joe Hernandez, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF FRAMEWORKS' "DELPHINA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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