Alaska mom says baby formula shortage 'creating extra panic' as she launches group for struggling parents

Baby formula shortage 'devastating' for parents

Allie Seckel, a certified infant feeding technician in Kodiak, Alaska, tells Fox News Digital about her Formula Exchange Group on Facebook, which she launched in January to help parents amid the baby formula shortage.

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

As parents across the nation struggle with the ongoing baby formula shortage, a certified infant feeding technician in Alaska is lending a hand through a social media group as the dilemma grows more concerning and many shelves remain bare.

Allie Seckel, the mother of a 10-month-old in Kodiak, Alaska, launched the Formula Exchange Group on Facebook in January when the baby formula shortage was just beginning.

AMERICA'S BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE: PHOTOS SHOW THE REALITY

"It was something I had noticed," Seckel told Fox News Digital. "Certain formulas here and there were starting to be a little bit harder to find. But I definitely did not anticipate it to be the extent it’s at now."

Parents affected by shortage are ‘in tears’ at the store

The baby formula shortage began with ongoing supply chain issues — and escalated due to recalls by formula manufacturer Abbott Laboratories, FOX Business previously reported.

MARYLAND MOM OF 4 KIDS, INCLUDING 10-MONTH-OLD TWINS, IS DESPERATE FOR BABY FORMULA

The recalls followed the deaths of two infants who reportedly consumed formula made at the company’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan.

Allie Seckel is a certified infant feeding technician and a formula feeding consultant who spoke to Fox News Digital about the baby formula shortage. She's pictured here with her 10-month-old daughter. (Allie Seckel)

In a recent statement to FOX Business, Abbott Laboratories said, "A thorough review of all available data indicates that the infant formula produced at our Sturgis facility is not likely the source of infection in the reported cases and that there was not an outbreak caused by products from the facility."

Major retailers such as Target, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS have limited purchases of formula in some cases, yet many parents are panic-buying.

Major retailers such as Target, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS have limited the purchases of formula in some cases, yet many parents are panic-buying. In this May 2022 photo, a Target in Long Island, N.Y., shows empty formula shelves. 

Major retailers such as Target, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS have limited the purchases of formula in some cases, yet many parents are panic-buying. In this May 2022 photo, a Target in Long Island, N.Y., shows empty formula shelves.  (Nicole Pelletiere/Fox News Digital)

Seckel said she’s also seen "misinformation" about formulas being discontinued or recalled.

"It’s creating extra panic on top of an already stressful situation," Seckel said. "It’s just a mess."

"To think that there are people that will take advantage of the situation is pretty mind-blowing, but [scamming is] absolutely happening."

For many parents, the situation is "devastating," Seckel said, particularly for parents of infants who need specialty or hypoallergenic formulas.

"They’re breaking down," Seckel said. "They’re in tears in the grocery aisle."

Although she feeds formula to her 10-month-old daughter, Seckel said the shortage hasn’t been a problem for her family because of where they live.

Allie Seckel of Alaska is shown here; meanwhile, empty formula shelves at a store in Long Island, N.Y., are shown at right.

Allie Seckel of Alaska is shown here; meanwhile, empty formula shelves at a store in Long Island, N.Y., are shown at right. (Allie Seckel/Fox News Digital)

"Areas [in Alaska] that are remote seem to actually be less affected," Seckel said.

"So we’ve been fortunate that we’re not too badly affected here [in Kodiak]."

BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE: WHICH TECHNIQUES BOOST BREAST MILK PRODUCTION?

Seckel said she's heard that other major cities in her state like Anchorage and Juneau have been experiencing the shortage just like the rest of the U.S.

Helping parents feed their babies

Seckel, a formula feeding consultant, runs a Facebook page called The Formula Fairy, which offers information, resources and support for parents who feed formula to their infants.

Seckel launched the page last August because "there’s a pretty serious lack of information and resources for formula parents."

Allie Seckel runs the Formula Exchange Group on Facebook, where parents can buy and sell formula during the shortage. 

Allie Seckel runs the Formula Exchange Group on Facebook, where parents can buy and sell formula during the shortage.  (Allie Seckel)

Since the shortage, Seckel's job has gotten busy.

Right now she's offering free resources to parents who are looking for alternatives to their baby's current formula.

BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE SENDS TENNESSEE MOM OF 8-MONTH-OLD INTO A ‘PANIC’: ‘I BROKE DOWN’

When she launched the Formula Exchange Group, Seckel made separate posts for every kind of formula.

In the comments section of each post, parents can say if they need formula for their infants, or if they have extra formula that they’re willing to sell to other parents.

"I wanted to come up with some sort of system that made it a little easier to manage, rather than posts all over the place."

"There are a lot of different formula buy-sell groups on Facebook … but a lot of them seem kind of unorganized and chaotic," Seckel said.

"I wanted to come up with some sort of system that made it a little easier to manage, rather than posts all over the place."

The public Facebook group, which didn’t get much attention early on, has grown to 4,500 members.

"I've had quite a few folks reach out saying that they were able to get formula, some that are actually really hard to find right now," Seckel said.

While parents may be scrambling for formula to feed their children, experts and government agencies such as the USDA and CDC still caution against accepting donations from unknown sources.

Although Seckel feeds formula to her 10-month-old daughter, the Alaska mom said the shortage hasn’t been a problem for her family so far because of their location.

Although Seckel feeds formula to her 10-month-old daughter, the Alaska mom said the shortage hasn’t been a problem for her family so far because of their location. (Allie Seckel)

The reason is improperly stored formulas could potentially cause more harm than good.

"Unused, returned infant formula may have been inappropriately stored (e.g., exposed to extremely high temperatures), may be past its use-by-date, or subjected to tampering (e.g., labels or use-by dates changed)," the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service wrote in a WIC Policy Memorandum.

Improperly stored formulas could potentially cause more harm than good.

"Some of these conditions can cause products to lose nutrients, impact the product’s safety and potentially threaten the health of recipients."

Seckel acknowledged that formulas should only be bought from trustworthy, reputable manufacturers from within America.

Ann Schmidt Fox News