FILE - Parental leave family newborn infant

(The Center Square) – The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services  urges citizens to be aware of the dangers of substituting and altering infant nutrition due to a nationwide shortage of baby formula.

DHSS joined the Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics in providing guidance for those dealing with formula shortages caused by COVID-19 pandemic supply chain challenges and recalls of Similac, Alimentum and Elecare powdered infant formulas produced in Michigan. The organizations also implored people not to hoard supplies.

"The combined shortage and product recall have created anxiety among infant parents and caregivers," Paula Nickelson, DHSS acting director, said in a statement. "What often happens in these situations is that parents find alternative methods for feeding, and for infants, this could be dangerous and should be done in consultation with the child's health care provider. We understand that manufacturers are doing everything they can to increase availability of formulas, and they are working closely with the Food and Drug Administration to ensure these products return to shelves to meet the current demand."

DHSS said participants in the Missouri WIC (women, infants and children) program are among those who have been greatly impacted by the formula shortage and recalls. The department encouraged parents and caregivers of infants to consult their pediatrician with questions or concerns about their baby's formula and nutritional needs.

DHSS urged parents and caregivers not to make homemade formula and not dilute or add more water to formula. The FDA also published information relating to the recalls.

DHSS stated social media conversations about the benign effects of homemade formula are false.

"Babies died before commercial formula was widely available," the statement said. "The infant mortality rates were higher and babies were malnourished. Don't make homemade formula."

The advisory also warned of the danger of giving cow's milk or other milk substitutes to a baby under 1 year as it can cause intestinal bleeding and harm kidneys.

"Many different brands of infant formulas are FDA-regulated and are safe to use for most babies," Dr. Maya Moody, president-elect of the Missouri Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics., said in a statement. "Call your pediatrician or primary care provider if you have any questions. Always mix the formula as instructed on the can or bottle, and never add extra water to dilute the formula."

Staff Reporter

Joe Mueller covers Missouri for The Center Square. After seven years of reporting for daily newspapers in Illinois and Missouri, he spent the next 30 years in public relations serving non-profit organizations and as a strategic communications consultant.