Amid baby formula shortage, Abbott Labs ships in Similac products from Ireland to restock US supply

ByJudy Hsu and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Friday, April 22, 2022
Amid baby formula shortage, Abbott Labs ships Similac in from Ireland
As a baby formula shortage continues to impact families, Abbott Labs said Similac products are being shipped in from Ireland.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A nationwide baby formula shortage appears to have no end in sight, leaving some parents on a desperate search - especially if the baby can only take certain formulas.

A Chicago area mom who manages an oncology practice said that even with her knowledge of the medical field, she's facing a crisis and worries for families with limited resources.

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Colleen Hafencher is the mother of a 5-month-old baby boy named Graham. Like so many who depend on baby formula, the Hafencher family is now struggling with a shortage that seems to be getting worse.

"I pride myself on being resourceful, as I know all mothers do," Hafencher said.

Hafencher said she only has a two-week supply after scouring stores and online.

"I started to look online at various retailers," Hafencher said. "I cannot find it anywhere. That's when I started to get concerned."

According to a product tracking firm, about 30% of popular formula brands may be sold out across the country as of this month. The shortage has been exacerbated by a formula recall in February with continued supply chain issues.

"The shortage on formula supplies for other families, for other products have been a pandemic-long issue," said Dr. Adam Barsella, a pediatrician at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage.

RELATED | Chicago-area doctor gives tips for parents switching baby formula brands amid shortage

For now, Barsella says the only solution is to plan ahead.

"The first step is finding alternatives," Barsella said. "You can work on that on your own, you can work on that in moms' groups online or you can just talk to your pediatrician."

He cautioned parents not to make their own formula at home, and to never dilute what you have.

"Diluting the formula can lead to imbalances in the blood that can lead to neurological issues in your baby," Barsella said.

Hafencher said that as challenging as the shortage is for her, she worries for those with fewer resources.

"If we're asking for help, it's not because we haven't looked for everything else out there," she said. "So we're asking for help. I'm asking for help, I know my community is asking for help and I hope that it's heard."

ABC7 reached out to Abbott Labs, which produces Similac. In a statement Friday, a spokesperson for Abbott said, "We're prioritizing production of infant formula products to help replenish the supply in the market and are also air shipping in product from our FDA-registered facility in Cootehill, Ireland on a daily basis."

Abbot said the product is being restocked, however, they did not say when they anticipate supplies to be back to normal.