'To Whom Much is Given, Much Will be Required': Nursing Moms Step-Up During Baby Formula Crisis
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Mothers who currently breastfeed their babies are pumping extra milk and giving it to parents who regularly feed their babies formula but are having trouble finding it.
U.S. stores report an estimated 40 percent shortage of infant formula, causing stress, anger and even panic among parents, grandparents and other caregivers who rely on formula to sustain their little one.
"Sometimes it does feel like all I do is breastfeed!" Kyndall Lane laughed.
She told CBN News she feeds her own baby, then pumps even more and gives it to friends, who she says for good reasons, don't breastfeed their child. They need breast milk now that the formula they typically use has become difficult to obtain.
"You know, in the Bible, it says, 'To whom much is given, much is required,' and I have been so blessed to be able to provide more than enough," she said. "So I just feel God has placed it on my heart to be able to help moms in this time specifically."
In addition to giving her breast milk to friends, Lane also donates it to the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD) Breast Milk Bank in Virginia, one of dozens of breast milk banks in the Human Milk Bank Association of North America (HMBANA).
"Milk banks," Ashlynn Baker, director of the CHKD Breast Milk Bank told CBN News. "We not only screen donors in many different ways, we also analyze, pasteurize, and culture milk in a microbiology lab, reducing the risk of transmission of disease."
Baker said the CHKD Milk Bank primarily serves infants who are currently hospitalized but says some HMBANA milk banks may assist the general public. However, if not using an HMBANA outlet, she cautions against obtaining breast milk from unreliable sources.
"Now in the informally shared, or sales of the black market per se, of human milk sales, you do risk contamination, risk of transmission of viral disease, you also risk exposure to contaminants, such as medications, that mothers are taking, that they assume are safe for lactation, and they are not," she said.
The FDA announced a major baby formula manufacturing plant that's been closed since February will likely be back up and running in a couple of weeks. It will be eight to ten weeks after that before its products will be on store shelves.
Colorado mom Ashley Lane, like millions of other parents, was shocked to discover last week when she went to the store, that she might not be able to perform the most basic need: feeding her child.
"There was nothing left on the entire shelf," she said, "I took a picture and sent it home. I was like, 'Thank goodness we have a couple cans left."
Her family got busy searching nearby towns for more formula.
"My sister picked me up some in Arvada yesterday," she said, adding, "My dad up in Thornton the other day."
Not everyone has that kind of support, however, which is where the church can make a difference.
Virginia's Fairfax Church opened a resource center that regularly provides infant formula and other necessities to people in the area who are in need.
"So one of the big questions that we asked ourselves years ago was, 'If we ever shut our doors as a church, would anybody in the community miss us?'" Valerie Nolan said of the Fairfax Church Resource Center. "And that is really what drives us on a daily basis."
Call it a modern-day miracle, but recently, in the midst of the shortage, a supplier actually provides the center with extra infant formula, which the church was able to give to anyone else who needs it.
"In a time like this, if there's a shortage, and we have access to the resources, we just want to be a part of solving that problem," Nolan said.
As parents try to solve the shortfall situation, health experts, such as former FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Pitts, warned against taking desperate measures.
"Parents should not try to make their own baby formula. It's a very complicated process, and you'll only do harm to your child," he told CBN News. "Similarly, you shouldn't dilute baby formula. Same types of issues."
He recommends exercising extreme caution when turning to the internet.
"There are unscrupulous people right now online selling baby formula. Maybe it's the real thing, maybe it's not. Maybe it's expired, maybe it's counterfeit," he said, "And they're price gouging. And my feeling about price gougers is they should be hung up by their thumbs."
Parents should consider checking with their pediatrician before accepting an unknown source of breast milk or formula and before switching to a different type of infant formula.
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