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As supply chain problems continue as a result of the pandemic, many parents and caregivers are still suffering from unexpected shortages — baby formula stockpiles.

In response, multiple federal agencies are working together to import formula that is not produced in the United States.

Since the choice of infant formula may differ from what was previously available, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, headquartered in Chicago, offers tips and guidelines on the differences between domestic and imported brand formulas.

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“As of July 10, the federal government had shipped more than 44 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents of infant formula to the US,” the academy said in a press release.

Baby formula is the sole source of nutrition for most babies up to 6 months of age, said Amy Reed, national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Rows of baby formula can be seen at Costco in Tijuana, Mexico.

Rows of baby formula can be seen at Costco in Tijuana, Mexico.
(Fox News Digital)

But shortages don’t just affect babies. Many children and adults rely on formula types to meet their nutritional needs because of digestive or neurological issues that make it difficult to eat by mouth, Reed noted.

Reed told Fox Digital News that some babies and adults need a broken-down elemental formula for easier digestion.

“Moving forward, not only infants need protection for their access to nutrition, but children and adults who rely on special formulas must also be protected.”

Also this formula is highly affected by formula recall because there may be no substitutes.

“Going forward, it’s not just infants who need their access to nutrition, but also children and adults who rely on special formulas that need to be protected,” Reed said.

A baby is given a bottle of formula.  Babies aren't the only ones who need access to formula, a trade association representative told Fox News Digital.

A baby is given a bottle of formula. Babies aren’t the only ones who need access to formula, a trade association representative told Fox News Digital.
(AP Photo/Jacqueline Martin)

As a reminder, baby formula is formulated to be as close to breast milk as possible, but it still does not replicate some of the natural immune properties of breast milk.

When first buying infant formula imported into the US, moms and dads should look for one that meets certain criteria and safety standards, Reid added.

“Infant formulas sold in the US meet the minimum and maximum nutrient requirements for calories, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.”

She also expressed caution about purchasing formulas that are not regulated by the Federal Drug and Administration (FDA), despite their increased popularity.

“Infant formulas sold in the US meet the minimum and maximum nutrient requirements for calories, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals,” Reed said.

Cans of baby formula are displayed on shelves at a pharmacy in Tijuana, Mexico.

Cans of baby formula are displayed on shelves at a pharmacy in Tijuana, Mexico.
(Fox News Digital)

Scoop sizes may differ between some international and domestic infant formulas – so caregivers should follow the manufacturer’s labeling when preparing infant formula. They shouldn’t add too much water to “stretch” the amount of formula per serving, she notes.

Some imported infant formulas have low levels of required iron compared to many US formulas; However, they still meet FDA requirements.

(If a caregiver is concerned about a child’s iron status, that parent should seek the help and guidance of a health care provider.)

“Imported infant or infant formula products are subject to FDA inspection when presented for import at a US port of entry.”

US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) shares information on its website about the requirements for formula importation.

It states, “Infant or baby formula may be imported into the United States without Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior approval, as long as the facilities that produce, store, or handle the products are registered with FDA and provide prior notice. Incoming shipments are provided to FDA.”

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It also shares the following: “Imported infant or infant formula products are subject to FDA inspection when offered for import at a US port of entry … FDA may stop shipment of products offered for import if the shipment does not comply with FDA’s requirements.”

“Infant formulas are labeled with an expiration date to ensure compliance with quality and safety standards.”

In addition, the FDA shared in a press release in June that “the agency is using several flexibility measures to increase the supply of products that serve as the sole source of nutrition for more infants to ensure that infant formula can be used safely and to provide adequate nutrition.”

It also said that “FDA continues to engage in further discussions with manufacturers and suppliers regarding additional supplies to ensure that parents and caregivers have sufficient infant formula available where and when they need it.”

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Reid, for her part, advises consumers to buy age-appropriate formula for their children (though they should always consult their pediatricians if there are any questions or concerns).

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Some imported infant formulas are formulated for babies in a specific age range.

“Infant formulas are labeled with an expiration date to ensure they meet quality and safety standards,” she said. Once the formula has expired, it should generally not be used.

In this picture, a limited supply of baby formula is offered for sale at a big box store in Chicago on January 13, 2022.

In this picture, a limited supply of baby formula is offered for sale at a big box store in Chicago on January 13, 2022.
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

If a baby is allergic to cow’s milk protein, it’s best to consult a doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist for a recommendation of a new brand of formula, she said.

“Formulas taste different, so if your baby or child continues to refuse a new formula after several tries, consult your doctor or RDN. [registered dietician nutritionist] for additional guidance,” Reed said.

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Reed offers some tips for promoting bonding between parents and babies that mimic the experience of breastfeeding.

“Parents can practice kangaroo care with their newborns, which is skin-to-skin contact between them and their baby. Parents can also make eye contact with their baby while talking or singing to them while bottle-feeding.”

The academy says breastfeeding support is essential when mothers return to work – not all mothers are able to breastfeed or nurse for various reasons.

The academy says breastfeeding support is essential when mothers return to work.

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Many doctors point out that not all mothers can or will nurse for various reasons.

“An increase in breastfeeding rates in the country will also reduce the demand for formula,” the academy said.

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“These efforts will significantly improve access to safe and sustainable nutrition for infants in our country.”