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Baby formula shortages causing concerns for some local hospitals and families

Walgreens is now putting into place three per transaction purchasing limits on baby formula, due to "increased demand and various supplier issues."

MINNEAPOLIS — Dr. Krishnan Subrahmanian is a pediatrician at Hennepin Healthcare, and also one of many parents affected by baby formula shortages this year.

"We have a 6-year old, a 4-year old and a 1-year old, a baby who just turned 1," he said.

Back in February, several infant formulas were recalled from an Abbott facility in Michigan, following reports of illnesses in children, including two deaths.

A recent review of supplies at 11,000 stores indicated that nearly 30% of popular baby formula brands may be sold out, and in Minneapolis those numbers top 50%.

"We're hearing a lot of concerned parents, worried parents," he said.

Walgreens is now putting into place three per transaction purchasing limits on baby formula. The company released a statement, saying, "Due to increased demand and various supplier issues, infant and toddler formulas are seeing constraint across the country. We put into effect purchase limits of three per transaction on all infant and toddler formula to help improve inventory. We continue to work diligently with our supplier partners to best meet customer demands."

"Just like the resources out in the community, being impacted by recalls and supply chain issues, we too feel that in our hospital supply, that we are offering inpatient families," said Dr. Madeleine Gagnon, vice chief of staff at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.

Dr. Gagnon says some parents may not have the option to travel from place to place to search for formula options, particularly specialty formulas that can't be substituted easily.

Meanwhile, health officials says parents should refrain from trying homemade formulas that can lead to severe nutritional imbalances or foodborne illnesses. "We do not encourage different mixing of the formula. We strictly discourage adding more water. For babies under 1, we still don't encourage whole cow's milk," said Dr. Subrahmanian. 

For those parents in need of options, Dr. Gagnon says it's best to contact your pediatrician. "Many clinics and hospitals do have emergency supplies, and so it would be nice to share your concerns to see how clinicians can come together and ensure your child gets what they need," she said.

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