The Academy's Advocacy Efforts During the Infant Formula Shortage

05/16/2022 - No infant should face hunger and food insecurity because of safety or supply shortages. While long-term solutions must be identified to ensure infant formula scarcity does not happen again in the future, immediate action must be taken to feed infants. Key information and resources for professionals are available in the Academy's Infant Formula Safety hub.

The Academy's advocacy efforts on this important issue are ongoing and include direct advocacy with Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the White House Domestic Policy Council. In addition, the Academy has been meeting with congressional leaders and working with partner organizations to address the shortages.

Academy members are encouraged to submit stories that demonstrate the impact of shortages on infant nutrition security which will be compiled and shared with congressional leaders prior to the May 25 Oversight and Investigation hearing.

Infant Formula Safety Resources are available for the public on eatright.org.

The Academy encourages the following during the shortage:

  • Parents should speak with their pediatrician to determine the best approach to feeding an infant under the current circumstances.
  • Breastfeeding by mothers will reduce the amount of formula needed to keep infants fed during this shortage and should be considered a frontline strategy for newborns.
  • Pasteurized donor human breastmilk from milk banks can be an option for some infants with critical needs, but parents are advised against sharing breastmilk or purchasing it from the internet.
  • Homemade formula are not safe or nutritionally adequate for infants nor are milks from other animals or plants as substitutes for human milk or infant formulas.

While parents must decide how to feed their infants, mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed whenever possible, and efforts made to support success include access to registered dietitian nutritionists and lactation consultants. According to the CDC, more than 84% of mothers initiate breastfeeding with nearly 47% exclusively breastfeeding at three months. By six months, that number drops to 25%.

In addition to our efforts with the Biden Administration and Congress, the Academy calls on communities to continue to play a central role in communicating with parents and mobilizing formula stock that may exist at hospitals and medical offices to increase access.

We call on employers to provide support for caregivers who are able to pump and breastfeed by ensuring unpaid break times and locations that are private and clean to pump or feed infants. While federal legislation requires most employers to provide unpaid break time, we ask that all families be supported with workplace accommodations, flexible leave and access to lactation professionals.

Finally, insurance providers are encouraged to reduce the burden necessary to provide non-formulary specialty formulas by streamlining authorization requests.

Academy members are invited to join the Maternal and Child Health Affinity Group  to further engage on this issue. The affinity groups meet once a month and are a forum-based event where staff, policy leaders and members discuss Academy advocacy priorities and strategies, share their experience, and determine how they can become involved in advocating.