LADSON, S.C. (WCSC) - Allison Lotz of Ladson has three children, including a 3-and-a-half-month-old baby boy.
Her son needs specialized formula because he has a milk protein intolerance. Over the past month, she said shelves have been bare.
“The second I wake up in the morning, I log on to Amazon, Target, and all the local grocery stores and Walmart to check to see if they have anything in stock,” Lotz said. “Then typically I will visit a few stores during the day. I have family that lives right here in town and there have been times we have gone to 20 stores in a day.”
The formula shortage began because of a combination of supply chain issues and the closure of an Abbott Nutrition plant.
Lotz said she depends on the community’s help to find the formula in stock. She’s a member of the Facebook group “Formula Finders Charleston, SC,” a group of 1,700 members. Members post when and where they find certain formulas to try to help others who need them.
“I have lost a lot of sleep. I have cried many tears over, you know, what do you do if you can’t find it,” Lotz said. “Like when we get to the point where we are to our last bottle, what do you do?”
But even if she can find two or three bottles on the shelf, it doesn’t give her a break from the search because her son drinks one 32-ounce bottle a day.
“It should never be this hard to feed your baby,” Lotz said. “You don’t have other options. They have to drink formula. So when you can’t find it, what can you do?”
She said bottles are also “astronomically expensive.”
She said sometimes it could cost upwards of $20 a bottle, and sometimes you have to pay steep shipping fees if you’re getting it from far away.
Dr. Sean Loudin, a neonatologist from Roper St. Francis Healthcare, said things soon could get better. He said over the last month, production has increased and we’ve received shipments of formula from European countries.
“I think we are about to see improvement,” Loudin said. “I know they had said at the beginning of July is when we should expect to have the store shelves look close to normal, it won’t be completely pre-pandemic levels, but they should start to have a supply on the shelves.”
For resources, Loudin said parents should first consult their pediatrician.
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