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Baby formula shortage hits Fargo area

Stores across the region have seen their shelves wiped out, or close to it, after a nationwide baby formula shortage.

Near empty baby formula shelves at a Fargo big box store.
Ben Morris / WDAY News
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FARGO — Across the country, parents have found empty shelves when looking for baby formula, and the Red River Valley has not been immune.

Supply chain issues and the mass recall of Similac baby formula have created a critical shortage of this vital source of food for infants.

"Babies are not just like little, mini adults. They have really different needs for nutrition that supports their brain development (as well as) healthy kidneys, healthy liver, so they really do need to eat either breast milk or formula as their diet," said Sanford Health Pediatrician Dr. Stephanie Hanson.

Anyone who visits a local big box store will likely see low amounts of formula on shelves, if any at all.

In many cases, stores have limited the number of baby formula a customer can purchase at a time.


Hanson said 25% of babies are exclusively breastfed, but that means the remaining 75% need formula to get proper nutrition.

Across the country, the out-of-stock rate for formula is at 40%. But for six states that include North and South Dakota, that number is even higher. More than half of baby formula was completely sold out during the week starting April 24.

Hanson cautioned parents looking for alternatives and said substituting cow's milk, diluting formula or making homemade formula are not viable options.

"Those are just not safe for a baby. They can cause really serious problems like brain damage, seizures (and) kidney failure. So I really want people to know that homemade substitutes or diluted formula are not acceptable substitutes," she said.

Hanson said the best thing parents can do is be flexible with which formula they use and to only carry a 10- to 14-day supply, saying that will make it so everyone should have enough.

Ben Morris joined WDAY in June of 2021 as a news reporter. He grew up in southern New Hampshire, before he moved to Fargo. He majored in media communications and minored in marketing at the University of Toledo in Ohio.
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