Let the babies have their milk and drink it too
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced the FORMULA 3.0 Act , which will permanently get rid of tariffs on many European formulas and make it easier for parents to buy those products. This is welcome news to the thousands of families who need these formulas because their babies were born with a medical condition.
My son was one of those babies. But right now, the U.S. government puts up hurdles to many formulas manufactured outside the country. But this new legislation could help more families find the life-saving formula their family needs.
My son was born with severe acid reflux. This is not the cutesy spit-up we see on many babies’ onesies; he had severe, constant heartburn. Although he was miserable most days, he wasn’t diagnosed for two months because American formulas are so standardized that it was hard for his doctors to tell whether he was allergic to an ingredient or had a bigger medical problem.
If you look at the back of a can of American formula, most have milk, soy, and palm oil ingredients. It’s not easy to figure out what’s bothering your patient when he can’t talk and he’s eating something with multiple allergens and/or stomach irritants. Plus, the American formulas we gave him irritated his stomach even more, which made him crankier.
Following the advice of some parents whose children also experienced severe acid reflux, and with the full support of our pediatrician, we bought a European goat’s milk formula called Nannycare. It was so gentle on his stomach. It made him happier and everyone’s life easier until he grew out of his condition at six months old.
But European formulas have benefits for babies who have conditions other than heartburn.
If they were allowed on the U.S. market, it would be easier for pediatricians to diagnose what is wrong with their patients. If a baby is allergic to an ingredient, there are European formulas with no soy, or options that swap out palm oil for coconut oil. They also have lower levels of iron, which is less constipating for babies with gastrointestinal issues.
The Food and Drug Administration claims that American formulas are safer, especially because those higher iron levels are better for a baby’s growing brain. But when European formulas were allowed on American shelves during the height of the formula crisis last year, there were no deaths or mass hospitalizations. The kids were all right. The FDA’s current regulations also fly in the face of millions of real-world examples of European children who use these formulas successfully and safely every day.
The FORMULA 3.0 Act would help prevent the supply chain shocks we saw last year that had parents running from grocery store to grocery store desperately looking for food for their children after a plant closed. It would also make what parents are doing now legal.
Make no mistake: Mothers and fathers are willing to go to any lengths to help their babies, even as far as breaking unjust laws. And there are plenty of suppliers here in the United States that are importing and selling European formula to parents in need. When my supplier in the United States closed up shop, I found one in the United Kingdom that had no problem selling me cans of Nannycare.
My last order was canceled around the same time the FDA forced a European formula maker to recall multiple popular brands because the agency didn’t like the labels. Luckily, my son had just grown out of his condition, so we successfully transitioned him to an American milk-based formula.
If he had been one of those unlucky babies who deal with severe heartburn for over a year, I would have found another supplier, even if it was illegal for them to sell to me. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to minimize my baby son’s pain.
The FORMULA 3.0 Act could help babies get the food they need without it being unnecessarily and cruelly blocked by bureaucrats. Parents and pediatricians should be able to help the little ones they care for without breaking the law.