NEW YORK — An infant formula shortage has some mothers taking drastic steps to feed their babies, and the federal government is now making plans to help end the supply problem.
President Joe Biden says it’s a matter of weeks before baby formula is back on shelves, but for some parents, help may not come soon enough. Some are taking potentially dangerous actions like diluting and making homemade formulas.
Gina Cheeseman, from Sound Beach, Long Island, says she drove around for hours with her 10-month-old son, Mateo, striking out in her search for formula.
“We’ve been looking all over,” she said.
Kazi Weidman couldn’t find formula, so she fed her baby cow’s milk, but baby Palmer is allergic and got a painful rash.
“What are we gonna do? Where are we gonna go from here? How do formula moms feed their kids?” she said.
One mom found someone selling formula online with an outrageous markup.
“There’s a special place in hell for someone like this,” she said.
The shortage has been building for months, but the Biden administration dismissed critics who say the administration moved too slowly.
“If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could have, but we moved as quickly as the problem came apparent to us,” the president said.
The White House has been reluctant to call the shortage a crisis.
“Well, I don’t think it’s about a label. I think it’s about addressing directly the need,” said White House communications director Kate Bedingfield.
“Some would say it’s not a crisis. Well, it is a crisis if your child is starving. It is a huge crisis,” New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney said.
Maloney told CBS2’s Dick Brennan hearings will be held next week to examine important questions on how this could have happened.
“Why was the FDA slow? Why were the manufacturers slow to respond to it? The point is, we are addressing it now,” she said.
After weeks of searching, Kelly McHenry finally found formula, but she’s not keeping it all to herself.
“I’m gonna post to see if another mom needs this type of formula. We gotta help each other out,” she said.
The president says he could invoke the Defense Production Act to help control the emergency long term.
The Health and Human Services Department has launched a website to help families find formula. You can find it at www.hhs.gov/formula/index.html.