Social media posts are urging parents facing formula shortages to make it themselves. But pediatricians told AFP they do not advise patients to use homemade formula, warning it may be lacking in essential vitamins and nutrients to help infants grow and thrive. A formula recipe, believed to date back to 1960, has been shared on Facebook hundreds of thousands of times, urging parents to mix together evaporated milk, water and Karo corn syrup. Parents in the United States say purchasing restrictions and price gouging have made them increasingly desperate to get their hands on the food needed by infants who are not breastfed. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns against homemade preparations.
Tanya Altmann, author of several parenting books and founder of Calabasas Pediatrics in California, agreed.
“I advise my patients against making homemade formula,” she told AFP. “It will not meet your baby’s essential nutritional needs, can be very dangerous for growth and development and can even make your baby sick.”
Looking at the recipe circulating online, Altmann said the added sugar would not be safe or healthy for infants.
“Karo syrup was once used to help relieve constipation, but it is not advised as it is not effective and may even contain harmful bacteria,” she said.
Azza Ahmed, an associate professor of nursing at Purdue University, said homemade formulas can put a baby at risk of “contamination and infection”.
And although parents will feel stressed by the shortages, the formula should never be diluted, as this can quickly lead to nutritional imbalance, she added.
Social media posts prompted by the shortages also claim that orange juice mixed with water can be introduced at three weeks of age.
But the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has warned against juice and other formula milk substitutes.
“Do not give water, tea or juice to your baby under six months old,” he said.
Other Facebook posts recommend that parents replace goat’s milk with infant formula.
But goat’s milk lacks nutrients needed by human babies, according to Gabrina Dixon of Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. She pointed to her lack of folate and vitamin B12 – which is needed to avoid anemia or a low red blood cell count.
Experts told AFP that worried parents should consult their pediatrician about feeding options, but called for a more open attitude about changing brands of formula or using generic products, especially for children who have not shown signs of sensitivity to the ingredients.
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