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Tucson pediatrician explains dangers of homemade baby formula

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 6:49 PM MST|Updated: May. 14, 2022 at 10:46 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The baby formula shortage is now becoming a crisis for some parents.

Countless empty shelves and rising prices have them looking for other options to feed their child. Homemade formula recipes are circling the internet, but doctors are warning parents against using them.

“There is no consistently safe way to make a homemade formula. There are way too many variables in how it’s mixed,” said Dr. Sandy Herron from Tanque Verde Pediatrics.

Not enough nutrients like iron and folate is a common issue with homemade baby formula. Dr. Herron says a number of her patients have asked for her approval on recipes they found online. None of them were considered safe and could have lasting impacts on a baby’s health.

“Ultimate issues with homemade formula is altered sodium and seizures, and brain swelling, and death. The longer term issues of using formula that’s not regulated or mixed properly is poor growth,” she said.

The younger the child, the higher the risk. Even in an extreme situation, Dr. Herron says homemade formula should never be used.

“Really the risk of a homemade formula is significant. I would rather a baby be on Pedialyte for some hours until they can get to their pediatrician and ask for help than doing homemade products that are potentially dangerous for their children,” she explained.

But despite the risk, homemade recipes are gaining popularity on social media.

“People are spreading misinformation out there and that’s not safe. I don’t want to see, you know next week one of these moms has a go fund me for the funeral for her child,” mother Andreya Drewery said.

She’s seen people post recipes for formula that are from decades ago. Many parents claim it’s safe, but times have changed.

“When we know better, we do better. That’s what I was trying to tell the ladies today, like ‘no, don’t.’ I see so many moms posting memes from this old recipe from the 50s and it’s like, ‘no, let’s not do that,’” she said.

There are some things you can do if you’re running low on formula. Check with your pediatrician. Many have a small stock of different baby formulas they can give their patients. You can also go straight to the company that makes the baby formula and ask if they have any they can get to you. If you’re searching online, make sure you’re only looking at trusted, U.S. companies.

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