CLEVELAND (WJW) – The baby formula shortage could potentially impact the OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank.

Typically donations of breast milk are collected at different locations across the state and then sent to Columbus where the milk is pasteurized before being sent to NICUs for premature babies and infants with medical conditions.

However, the shortage of formula might lead to fewer donations as some moms worry about feeding their own babies and some moms are now donating their milk to friends and family members.

“I’ve already heard from patients and friends that a number of women are continuing to breast feed or pump longer than they were initially planning just because of the concerns about the shortage,” said Dr. Allie Effron, who is a pediatrician and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

Dr. Effron works with Greater Cleveland Pediatrics in Beachwood, which is a drop-off location for breast milk donations.

“Most of that milk is directed toward premature infants that are NICU or hospitalized for other medical conditions,” she said.

It may be possible for some moms to purchase the milk in small quantities, but that isn’t an option for most people because of the demand and limited availability for sick and premature infants.

Moms interested in seeing if they qualify can learn more by contacting OhioHealth directly.

So, what’s a mom to do?

Dr. Effron, who is herself a new parent of a 4-month old, offered several suggestions.

First and foremost, work with your pediatrician.

“Your pediatrician can probably help you source an appropriate formula based on what’s out there. Many of the formulas on the shelf are interchangeable,” she said.

Pediatricians can also potentially offer other options. For example, she says, cow’s milk and toddler formulas might be appropriate for an older infant and there are other options for young babies, too. 

However, she says never attempt homemade formula recipes currently circulating on the internet.

“Homemade formulas are probably not safe for most babies. Infants require such specialized nutritional needs and specific electrolyte and nutrient balance,” she said. “Which can be difficult to create at home and could lead to more risk or damage to the baby.”

But it is time to pull together.

A number of parents are turning to social media sites and groups where they can share location details of available formulas and arrange trades for different brands that best suit their baby’s needs, everyone working together until the shortage is solved and shelves restocked.

“I’ve seen so many people sharing online that they have extra supply and Facebook groups helping each other out,” said Dr. Effron. “Just so they can find enough formula to feed their children.”