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MICHIGAN — Federal officials are taking steps to address a national baby formula shortage after the manufacturer Abbot recalled products made at its Michigan plant, which remained closed.

The products included powder formula sold under the labels Similac, Alimentum and EleCare labels after four children became ill with bacterial infections and two died.

As U.S. House officials prepare for a May 25 hearing on a national baby formula shortage, baby formula out-of-stock rates were at 43 percent during the first week of May. That’s up from 40 percent at the end of April and 30 percent at the beginning of that month, according to Datasembly, a data analysis firm that looked at baby formula supplies at 11,000 U.S. retail locations.

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More than half of states reported out-of-stock rates between 40 percent and 50 percent.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it is working to resolve infant formula shortages that started almost a year ago due to supply chain issues. Until supplies can be replenished, parents who can’t find formula are urged to work with their local food banks and pediatricians.

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Asked about the shortage on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the agency was working “around the clock.” Psaki highlighted specific steps the agency is taking to address the shortage, including working with manufacturers to increase production, optimize supply lines and increase product sizes. The agency is also trying to make it easier to import formula and is taking steps to increase supply, especially for specialized formula, Psaki said.

Destined for Greatness, a nonprofit in Detroit was helping families by giving away formula to help feed their babies. However, Executive Director Shadora Ford told WDIV she was having trouble keeping up with demand for formula. Anyone looking to help the group could donate funds to help them purchase more formula to visit their website at DFGDetroit.com.

Major drugstores and other retailers in Michigan, including CVS, Walgreens and Target, have placed limits on the amount of formula customers can buy.

The recalled baby formulas were produced in Sturgis, Michigan, at Abbott’s largest manufacturing plant, which was shuttered in February due to contamination concerns. Formula produced at the plant was linked to two infant deaths, prompting an investigation by the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The recall especially hurt parents who rely on WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), a special supplemental nutrition program. Abbott brands are among those covered by the WIC program, and the company’s woes have trickled down to consumers.

FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf said in a statement on the agency’s website that it recognizes consumers “are frustrated” by the shortages and that “ensuring the availability of safe, sole-source nutrition products like infant formula is of the utmost importance to the FDA.”

Among the solutions the agency is exploring are streamlining paperwork and opening the door for more baby formula imports.

Pediatricians warn against DIY formulas or watering down formula, which can cause seizures in infants.

“It is a particular worry about parents doing substitutes or trying to stretch the formula out,” Dr. Magna Dias, a pediatrician and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine, told NPR last month. “And there’s a couple of worries there. One — your baby may not be getting enough nutrition if you’re not giving them all the calories that they need.

“And then the other thing is that babies — when they’re little, their kidneys are not mature. And for that reason, they need that perfect formulation. Otherwise, it could actually cause them to get very sick and have to come to the hospital.”

Pediatricians say breast milk is best for infants, but if that’s not an option, formula is the best option.

“For babies who are not being breastfed, this is the only thing they eat,” Dr. Steven Abrams, of the University of Texas, Austin, told The Associated Press. “So it has to have all of their nutrition and, furthermore, it needs to be properly prepared so that it’s safe for the smallest infants.”

Switching brands is OK for most healthy infants, but parents whose babies need specialized formulas should talk to their health care providers before making a change, pediatricians advise.

To address the shortages, Chicago-based Abbott is increasing production at its other manufacturing plants, and is bringing jet loads of formula from its plants in Ireland to the United States.

“Unfortunately, many of those very specialized formulas are only made in the United States at the factory that had the recall, and that’s caused a huge problem for a relatively small number of infants,” Abrams said.

The FDA said Abbott is still working “to rectify findings related to the processes, procedures and conditions.” Other infant formula makers are “meeting or exceeding capacity levels to meet current demand,” the agency said.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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