Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI)
Supporting Families during the National Formula Shortage and Beyond

Fear and anxiety are mounting for families across the United States that depend on formula to partially or fully feed their infants. While the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute primarily works to support, promote, and protect breastfeeding and lactation, our team encourages safe feeding for all infants, no matter the source, domestically and globally. Our work honors the lived experiences of families, and we are deeply saddened to see news and social media posts that perpetuate a divide in support when families are desperately trying to provide lifesaving nutrition to their infants.

As an institute that supports advocacy for systems-level changes that consistently apply an equity lens, we are hopeful that this terrible situation will lead to opportunities for improvement on all levels. The formula shortage is disproportionately impacting communities of color—this is an infant-feeding crisis. Policies, funding, coordination and community connections need to be nurtured to strengthen the safety net in times of crisis.

Media coverage is certainly bringing attention to many issues that have been raised by public health advocates for years. We know that access to prenatal lactation counseling and education is essential to birthing persons trying to meet their feeding goals. Hospital best practices defined by the WHO’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, when implemented with intention, are a great equalizer in providing optimal care. Unfortunately, the critical work of lactation support has been downplayed and even targeted in some cases.

Recognizing and affirming the experiences of families will lead to progress and change. We know how lifesaving support can be to families in need. Providing support includes honoring the choices of families and providing safe guidance, referrals and resources no matter what feeding method a family chooses.

In recent days, these national organizations have released position statements and/or guidance for families:

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine: https://www.bfmed.org/statement-on-shortage-of-breastmilk-substitutes

US Lactation Consultant Association: https://uslca.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Navigating-the-US-Formula-Shortage.pdf

U.S. Breastfeeding Committee – Affiliated COVID-19 Infant & Young Child Feeding in Emergencies Constellation: http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/d/do/4174 

We stand in solidarity with all families, communities and organizations that are working so hard to ensure that every infant, especially in poor and underserved communities, has food security and care when they need it the most. Please visit our Lactation and Infant Feeding in Emergencies (L.I.F.E. Support) resource page for a repository of available resources related to the formula shortage.

May 23, 2022

—Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute

The Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute seeks to promote increased quality of care and create an optimal breastfeeding norm through research, service and training. Our comprehensive approach prioritizes the reproductive health continuum, an intergenerational approach and the “Three B’s” (birth, breastfeeding, birthspacing) and includes attention to local, national and global health issues that impact the mother and child dyad.

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