Saskatchewan’s Nakaylia Tudway-Cains is one of many mothers in Canada feeling the strain of the ongoing baby formula shortage, and says is now paying $400 a month for special over-the-counter formula she needs for her allergic son.
Tudway-Cains’s son Nolan was diagnosed with a milk protein allergy when he was six months old, so she switched him to formula. Now, the cost of that formula has risen amid a serious shortage in the United States.
“We were actually out of province (when the shortage hit) and not ever near a pharmacist or our doctor to ask for help. We were calling every store and then we called back home to see if our family could pick it up, but it just wasn’t available anywhere,” she told CTV News Channel on Thursday.
“It was very stressful. So, we had to resort to a formula that did make him very uncomfortable and very, very sick. We didn’t have another option.”
Health Canada said in an advisory issued Thursday, that there is currently a shortage of an infant formula designed for babies with food allergies and certain medical conditions amid the U.S. shortage.
The health agency said the two types of products affected in Canada at present are extensively hydrolyzed infant formulas and amino acid-based formulas – which are “critical” for babies who are at risk of anaphylactic allergic reactions.
“In certain provinces, the supply of these products is not meeting demand,” Health Canada said in a statement.
The Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre told CTV News on May 12 that it has also been affected by the formula recall and says it’s in a “critical shortage.” It says it hasn’t had formula available for six weeks.
The stakes of the formula shortage are high for babies like Nolan.
“Nolan has lost a fair amount of weight and before, he wasn’t gaining any weight at all. It ended up meaning a trip to the emergency room when he was six months old to get that diagnosis because he had blood in his stool,” Tudway-Cains said.
“Now that we are eating some solids, he is gaining some weight and he’s back up to where he should be which is a huge stress off my shoulders.”
The options for mothers like her remain limited, however, as they can’t switch brands for the formula and Health Canada says parents should not use substitutes such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk, evaporated milk, soy or rice beverages as they are “not nutritionally complete” for an infant.
The agency also advised parents not to “attempt to make homemade infant formula as it can put your baby’s health at risk” and recommended commercial infant formula for the nutrients they contain.
To help ease the impact of the shortage, Health Canada said it is monitoring formula supply and working with manufacturers to import products similar to the extensively hydrolyzed and amino acid-based formulas.
In the meantime, Tudway-Cains remains worried about being able to afford Nolan’s baby formula at an inflated cost but is waiting on the government to hopefully help her family with coverage.
With files from Brooklyn Neustaeter
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