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As formula returns to store shelves, The Milk Bank says demand isn't slowing down

The Milk Bank baby 2022
Posted at 2:25 PM, Oct 19, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — As Hoosier families continue to navigate the national formula shortage, an Indianapolis organization says demand is not slowing down.

The Milk Bank says right now, they're seeing a 25% increase in demand from this time last year.

"We started seeing the surge around the initial formula shortage ... and that has just continued throughout the fall," Freedom Kolb, CEO of The Milk Bank, said. "We have not seen any relief since the formula crisis started ... I think the demand will just continue to grow."

Kolb says around 80% of donor milk goes to hospitals to help premature and NICU babies. The other 20% goes to help babies in an outpatient setting.

In 2021, more than 800 donors gave milk to The Milk Bank.

"It has been really challenging that because we're seeing an increase across all population groups," Kolb said. "We really need those moms who are able to produce extra milk for their own infant and then save the life of another to come forward and help support us during this time as we bridge the various formula shortages."

PREVIOUS: The Milk Bank calling on moms to donate

Abbott announced a recall on Oct. 14 for some of its products because they may not have properly sealed.

“This recall equates to less than one day's worth of the total number of ounces of infant formula fed in the U.S. and is not expected to impact the overall U.S. infant formula supply,” Abbott said in a statement.

CNN reports nearly a third of households with a baby younger than 1 said they had trouble finding formula over the course of one week last month, according to a survey conducted by the US Census Bureau. More than 40% said that they had only a week’s supply or less on hand.

Earlier this year, The Milk Bank moved into a new facility. They now have an expanded milk lab and production space, additional lab equipment for pasteurization and a generator in case of power outages.

"We have not seen it slow down. I think there could be some great reasons behind that; maybe we're seeing a shift in using more donor milk in terms of supporting breastfeeding ... I think that would be really positive," Kolb said. "But I also think there will be a lasting public health impact of the scare and the worry that families experienced when they could not find a way to feed their child."

Kolb says new milk donors can be ready to donate in as little as a week. The Milk Bank serves around 70 hospitals each year across the Midwest.

For more information on how to donate or request donor milk, click here.

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