Republican doctors in Congress are raising concerns about the potential long-term health impact of the baby formula shortage if the crisis is prolonged.
The GOP Doctors Caucus is pointing blame at the Biden administration for the shortage, which has prompted a scare and frustration among new parents across the country.
“It’s a crisis. We’re very concerned about the nutritional metabolic effects that may impact, even some adults that use various types of formula,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup, Ohio Republican who serves as caucus co-chair.
The concerns come amid the creeping crisis of keeping baby formula on grocery shelves in stock due to inflation, recalls, and supply chain issues, as demand skyrockets.
Baby formula is a breast-milk substitute for infants whose mothers either cannot produce milk or opt out of breastfeeding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said nearly one in five newborn babies receive formula, and about half of infants by three months old are taking at least some formula.
Rep. Michael Burgess, Texas Republican, said having formula available is critical, and the lack of it could have a health impact not only on infants, but on those with special needs who rely on specific kinds of formula in their diet.
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“It’s clearly a critical commodity, and the fact that it’s in short supply is intolerable in the minds of the American people,” Mr. Burgess said. “There’s no question there’s going to be direct suffering as a consequence.”
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, New Jersey Republican, said President Biden should bear responsibility for the shortage because the administration didn’t act when it was still preventable.
“He didn’t prepare for it. It’s been going on for a while, and they just weren’t ready,” Mr. Van Drew said.
The White House this week didn’t rule out invoking the Defense Production Act to mitigate the crisis and increase domestic production of formula.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the shortage “unconscionable and tragic,” calling for the passing of legislation next week that would help shore up supply chains.
Mrs. Pelosi also noted that House Democrats are holding hearings on the matter.
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“Ensuring that every precious baby has the nutrition that he or she needs is a matter of the baby’s life and development,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “While it is essential that we ensure that this issue never happens again, right now the babies are crying and the babies are hungry – so we must take urgent action to protect their health and well-being.”