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El Paso doctor weighs in on baby formula do’s and don’ts amid shortage

EL PASO, Texas– As the nation continues to experience a shortage of baby formula, one El Paso doctor warns the community of safety measures to take when considering substitutes.

ABC-7 spoke with El Paso Children's Hospital Chief Medical Officer and Pediatric Cardiologist Dr. Jeffrey Schuster, who said there are three important things to consider during this time.

Dr. Schuster said the best option is to breastfeed if you can do so because it is better for the baby, and there is no shortage of it.

Second, Schuster said if the normal formula you get is unavailable, it is okay for parents to switch formulas unless their baby is on a specialized formula.

He said you should not substitute it without letting your pediatrician help you make that decision first.

As people begin to explore other substitute options, he reminds the community not to give regular cow milk to younger babies.

“Formulas are designed to mimic as closely as possible human breast milk, the proteins are usually different, things like that and a lot of babies will develop bloody diarrhea if you give them cow’s milk too early,” said Dr. Schuster.

He said once the child is about 11 months old, and if formula is not an option, parents can try cow's milk.

Lastly, Dr. Schuster said it is important for parents not to dilute the formula.

“It can be very dangerous, the breast milk mimic of formula has the same amount of nutrients and minerals, and if you dilute it, you may not be getting enough sodium,” said Schuster. “..Unfortunately, it’s been a long time, but I have seen babies who come in extremely low sodium, their brain swells.”

For mothers who cannot produce enough breast milk, he encourages them to stay hydrated and practice a good diet to increase milk supply.

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Brianna Perez


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