Glenside, Pa. mother donating breast milk amid baby formula shortage

"It's frightening because if you run out of formula, you can't just give them anything. So it's kind of scary as a mom."
GLENSIDE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Montgomery County, Pennsylvania woman is one of the many mothers around the country helping others amid the ongoing baby formula shortage.

Kelly Dittman, of Glenside, has a 13-month-old daughter named Fiona.

While she's breastfeeding her daughter, she's also pumping extra for other mothers these days -- like Sarah Devereaux, a Glenside mother who has an 8-month-old daughter named Lucy.

Since Devereaux hasn't been able to find much baby formula around, she turned to Facebook.

That's where she found Dittman who had made a post offering up her milk to anyone in need.

"It's frightening because if you run out of formula, you can't just give (your baby) anything. So it's kind of scary as a mom," Devereaux said.

The USDA has issued warnings concerning breast milk and what not to do:

  • Do not feed cow's milk to babies under one.
  • Don't water down formula or use homemade infant formula.
  • Do not buy formula online that comes from outside the U.S., which could be counterfeit, have a fake label or wrong use-by date.

President Joe Biden on Friday defended his administration's response to the shortage that has triggered public outcry from parents and lawmakers and drawn Republican fire.

"There's nothing more urgent we're working on than that right now, and I think we're going to be making some significant progress very shortly," Biden said from the White House at an event that had been meant to tout public safety funding - reflecting how the lack of formula has quickly overtaken other administration concerns.
Biden dismissed growing criticism that the White House was too slow to respond to the nationwide shortage that had been building for months, telling reporters, "If we had been better mind readers, I guess we could've, but we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us."

Complaints from families grew increasingly desperate last week as they encountered more empty shelves, with an estimated 43% of formula products out of stock as of Sunday at stores across the U.S., according to tracking firm Datasembly.

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The White House says it will crack down on price gouging and take steps to import more baby formula.

This week, Congress is expected to address the growing shortage, which includes legislation that would allow vital food to be imported from other countries.

Another way to get breast milk is at a milk bank.

The executive director of Mid-Atlantic Mothers' Milk Bank tells Action News they are seeing an increase in demand for donor milk.

"We have parents who call us up desperate like, 'I do not have any idea what my child is going to be able to eat,'" Denise O'Connor, executive director of Mid-Atlantic Mothers' Milk Bank said.
The milk bank caters to babies with medical needs.

"Such as babies who have kidney disease, the specialty formulas that they rely on were affected by the recall," O'Connor said.

SEE ALSO: Baby formula shortage worsens with 40% out of stock at more than 11,000 stores nationwide
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As parents are scrambling to find formula to feed their babies, many are resorting to donated breast milk and social media groups.

You can help by donating your own breast milk.

O'Connor said once the milk bank screens you, FedEx can bring a cooler to your home for you to place your milk in, and they'll take the cooler too.

The FDA is expected to detail its plan for imports this week. It remains unclear how the imports would work given the agency's requirements on formula packaging and vitamin content, though Commissioner Robert Califf tweeted Friday that the agency will ensure imported products meet "certain safety, quality and labeling standards."

"We have to move with caution as well as speed because we got to make sure what we are getting is in fact first-rate products," Biden said. "That's why the FDA has to go through the process."

ABC News contributed to this report.
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