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As baby formula shortages continue across America, a Louisiana mother who relies on a Facebook group to get the formula she needs for her premature newborns wants to remind others that the crisis is always serious – and that it should not be buried or ignored.
“We’ve been put in a position where no mother should be put,” Amber Bergeron of Sorrento, Louisiana, told Fox News Digital.
“We feel helpless. We feel as a community that we are trying to deal with it instead of [the right people] intervene,” she added. “People don’t pay attention to what’s really going on here and how serious it is, but it’s still happening. It’s like they forgot.”
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She continued, “Formula isn’t something we shouldn’t be without…and the fact that we’ve had issues feeding our babies and it’s happening nationally, that’s It’s disgusting to me because I’m sure these politicians’ babies are eating,” she said.
“I’m sure they find a way.”
Bergeron said she and her family were first hit by the formula shortage shortly after her twins – daughter Sky (who has a moderate heart defect) and son Storm – were born on 10 April, four weeks early.
Her babies spent nearly two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Both children arrived weighing 5 pounds and 3 ounces.
Both babies had iron deficiencies – and they each lost a pound.
Bergeron was unable to find the brand of formula that provided the higher nutritional levels needed for premature infants, which was recommended by her family pediatrician, she said. At one point, Bergeron was down to a can of food – enough to feed the babies for a single day.
“The other formula has more nutrients, vitamins D, E, K and iron than the other formulas don’t have,” said Bergeron, who has four children.
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After Sky and Storm were released from hospital, their blood test results showed both babies had iron deficiencies – and they had each lost a pound. Bergeron said this happened because she had no choice but to offer her twins another brand of formula that did not include the extra vitamins.
“I’m sure these politicians’ babies are eating. I’m sure they find a way.”
Bergeron said doctors weren’t recommending that she breastfeed because she was taking prescription medication. Prior to the birth of her twins, she was unable to stock up on formula as she had no way of knowing which brand would meet their health needs.
Bergeron said she and her husband, Craig, spend $500 a month to feed their twins. She went so far as to contact the hospital where Sky and Storm were born and asked them to buy formula milk for them, but officials told her it was against policy to sell it to her, she said. declared.
“When I was at that box, I was so desperate and beside myself,” she added.
The shortage of infant formula has taken its toll on many American families over a period of months this year.
The shortage is due to labor and supply chain disruptions, product recalls and the related closure of Abbott Nutrition’s manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan.
Abbott Nutrition is one of the top four infant formula producers in the United States. Its competitors are Nestlé USA, Mead Johnson Nutrition and Perrigo Pediatrics.
Parents and caregivers have resorted to alternatives, such as buying infant formula online or driving out of state in search of infant formula.
Many parents joined social media groups to sell and trade formulas, including Bergeron herself, who ended up meeting Leann Westman, another mom.
Parents post alerts for each other
Westman is a mother from Baton Rouge who helps four other women run the Facebook group known as “Formula Spotted 225.” On the page, parents post alerts when store shelves are restocked with formula.
When Bergeron contacted the group after the birth of her twins, Westman responded.
“It angers me that five Baton Rouge women did what the government couldn’t do, and we’re feeding babies in our area.”
“She contacted me immediately and explained that she was going to exhaust all options to make sure my babies were going to be fed,” Bergeron said of Westman.
“Miss Leann was able to take care of me when I was at a club [of formula].”
Westman said Victoria Greer, another mother from Louisiana, started the group of friends looking for formula milk.
The two women connected after Greer noticed Westman was posting photos of full shelves for her own Facebook friends. Westman was also looking for formula for her own 11-month-old daughter.
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Westman became a group administrator and it “snowballed from there,” Westman told Fox News Digital in a phone interview.
She now has a formula pantry in her own home and helps 5-10 mothers a day.
“It angers me that five women from Baton Rouge did what the government couldn’t do, and we’re feeding babies in our area,” Westman said.
Westman tried to speak to his local politicians on the issue; she called a town hall meeting in May to discuss the shortage. She said, however, that the main topics discussed on this particular call were Social Security taxation and the dredging of canals to protect against flooding.
“These things can wait,” Westman said. “Babies can’t wait for their next meal.”
Westman said she’s helped mothers as far away as Mississippi. She either “meets them in the middle” or invites them to visit the formula pantry. Westman and his fellow Facebook group members are collecting donated cans.
She said one particular day, a woman drove about 40 minutes to pick up a box of formula – and kindly asked Westman for a bottle of water.
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“As soon as I gave it to her, she mixed up the formula because her baby was screaming,” Westman recalled.
“In our country in 2022, what we are reduced to as Americans – it makes me sick.”
Westman said she offered every family she met for the first time one or the other – or she encouraged them to take only what they needed.
She also accepts cash donations, which she also uses to buy more formula.
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Bergeron said Westman drove 30 minutes to meet her and gave her eight free cans of formula. Now, Bergeron said Westman buys formula for her when she finds her mark. Bergeron reimburses her $15 per box, which is $5 less than what stores charge for her brand of formula.
Westman said she was helping Bergeron with money from her own pocket. “She’s my special case,” Westman said.
“I am forever grateful to this group as well as family, friends and even strangers for making sure these babies are fed,” Bergeron said, adding that she and Westman have become friends.
Bergeron recently received 19 cans of formula from her parents and some friends.
It is now down to 10 cans. “It means 10 days [of feedings],” she says.