Rabbit Holes are back! But for now, only in written form (videos are hard work y’all). First: what are Rabbit Holes? They are baby-related news or topics that I find tempting to follow down a research rabbit hole but must resist –for the time being– but I think are interesting enough to share.
Parents in India sue their son for lack of grandkids.
They argue that they spent all their savings on their (his upkeep, education, car, wedding) and after six years of marriage, their son and his wife aren’t even planning to have kids yet. Their lawsuit alleges that not having a grandchild to entertain them in retirement constitutes mental harassment on the part of their son. Win or lose, I cannot imagine the son and daughter-in-law ever allowing their children (if they decide to have them) to have contact with their insane and litigious grandparents.
Formula Shortage in the US
Last October, a whistleblower contacted the FDA regarding their concerns at the Abbot Nutrition. Abbot manufactures, among other things, baby formula. The FDA could not investigate the factory until January, and by February, there was a recall of several of Abbot’s infant formula brands after four babies were sickened and two died from Cronobacter sakazakii (bacterial) infections caused by tainted formula. The factory involved has still not reopened, and along with supply chain issues due to the pandemic, this has led to a shortage of infant formula across the nation.
One of the Abbott brands recalled, Similac, makes up 40% of the US market for infant formula and is one of the main suppliers for the WIC (women, infants, and children) program that provides food for low-income families. Parents are reporting that they are watering down or giving their babies smaller servings in order to stretch out their remaining supplies– this is a very dangerous practice, babies should only be fed formula that has been reconstituted as directed by the manufacturer in order to avoid causing electrolyte imbalances, especially for newborns. The Washington Post gives suggestions for feeding babies when there isn’t enough formula.
As with literally any topic in the US today, this one has become a political and culture-war cudgel. For example, Fox News focused on blaming the Biden administration for the formula shortage and reported Rep. Stefanik’s claim that the Whitehouse laughed at hungry babies… yet Fox News also criticizes Biden’s Whitehouse for feeding hungry people in general.
In reality, the Biden Administration has met with the heads of formula manufacturers, including store brands like Target and Walmart to find a way to get formula to families who need it. The FDA has requested more funding to help monitor formula manufacturers. In addition, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the house, has said they are working on regulatory and funding measures to increase supplies. I sincerely hope that with both sides of the political spectrum affecting concern for hungry babies, they will work together on something for once.
And there’s the sensitive issue of breastfeeding. I’m a big advocate of breastfeeding for people who want to but the bottom line is that the majority of US babies will be formula fed at some point in their lives (whether 100% or supplemental), and they need safe food. “Let them eat cake–” erm, breastmilk, is tone-deaf in the extreme. The focus of this issue (not breastfeeding, not identity politics, not welfare) should be on the manufacturer and the supply chain that allowed for one factory shutdown to leave millions without access to infant formula. We need to have a better (or just a) contingency plan for feeding our most vulnerable.
One measure that could help is changing rules about importing infant formula from Europe, like in Canada, but that gets into a whole other rabbit hole about the grey market for baby formula.
I thought this was a great op-ed on the issue by Nicole Russell in the Star-Telegram.
NYT’s Removes “Fetus” from Wordle
With the leak about and possibility that SCOTUS will reverse Roe vs Wade, the word “fetus” was deemed too sensitive for US Wordle players. The New York Times, which bought the game platform earlier this year, said they wanted the game to be an escape from the news.
I wonder if they will add “formula” and “bottle” to the list too.
Thanks for reading Rabbit Holes, I would love to hear your thoughts on these stories. If you have a Rabbit Holes suggestion, please let me know!
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