Cow Milk Can Briefly Substitute for Baby Formula

Daniella Cressman

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Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. Please speak to a doctor before making any decisions concerning your baby.

Mothers across the nation are distraught due to the massive shortage of baby formula on shelves in stores across America: It's hard to buy any products right now, but even switching brands can affect an infant's health in a negative manner, especially if they are allergic to certain ingredients.

Furthermore, many women cannot breastfeed for health reasons, making it a terrifying time for parents.

Periodic shortages of baby formula have been occurring over the last two years, a result of pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. These were made worse starting in February with “an outbreak of a couple of rare bacterial infections” that have been linked to powdered formula products from the Abbott Nutrition manufacturing facility in Michigan. That factory has temporarily shut down production, Kadish said. —Rick Nathanson

Dr. Matthew Kadish says that cow milk can serve as a sufficient substitute for baby formula, but only for a short period of time.

“For infants who are older than 6 months, it’s OK in the short term using whole milk...it’s hard to give an exact number, but I think it would be fine for a few days, or a week, but not a whole lot longer. That’s because too much cow’s milk can interfere with a baby’s ability to absorb iron and lead to an iron deficiency.” —Dr. Matthew Kadish

While this isn't ideal, it could make a difference for families who are struggling to feed their babies who are over six months. It's detrimental to use it for longer than a week though.

Thankfully, help is on the way.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to speed up manufacturing of infant formula; and in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, Biden directed the agencies to work with the Pentagon to identify overseas manufacturers of formula that meet U.S. standards so that chartered Defense Department flights can swiftly fly the items to the U.S. —Rick Nathanson

Although this isn't ideal, it could be lifesaving for so many babies who have not had access to the nourishment their little bodies need.

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM
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