Dangers of watering down baby formula

-Dr.Dianne McCallister, Chief Medical Officer at Porter Adventist Hospital

As we move into Thanksgiving, we are again reminded of those for who are having trouble getting enough to eat for their families - a problem called "food insecurity".  

In fact, 16-22 percent of American families find themselves coming up short on funds at the end of the month.

 An article earlier this year in the Journal Pediatrics looked at the food in a clinic in Cincinnati.  

They found a third of families in the clinic had food insecurity - and among these families, up to an eighth were unknowingly endangering their infants by watering down the formula trying to stretch their budgets.   
    
Before we discuss formulas, it is important to remind all new mothers that the best choice for their infants is breast milk.
    
That being said, sometimes breast feeding is not an option, and in those cases, there are many types of formula available, and they have nutrients added that babies need for proper growth - including iron supplements.

While some formulas are based on cows milk - children under one year of age should NOT be fed cows milk - it does not have the correct nutrients, and it can cause irritation of the lining of the stomach.
    
It is best to talk to your child's pediatrician regarding which formula is best for your child

Risk of diluting formulas
 
First, the child does not receive adequate nutrition, and growth and development can be slowed.
    
A dangerous problem from too much water in the formula can be water intoxication - which can be fatal, as well as low levels of sodium and potassium in the blood - which also can be fatal

So it is extremely important to follow directions exactly.

There are premixed formulas, in cans, that are ready to eat.

There are concentrated liquids that must be diluted prior to use

There are powders that are mixed at the time of use.

All of these should be used exactly according to the directions - and water should be measured.

Keeping formula safe
 

  1. Wash your hands before preparing formula
  2. Clean bottles and nipples thoroughly between uses
  3. It is recommended to boil water prior to using it to prepare formula - letting it cool before using it
  4. Only mix up the amount of formula that you will use for the feeding
     

Dr. McCallister is on 7NEWS at 11 a.m. every Wednesday. If you have a topic or question you would like her to discuss, email 11am@thedenverchannel.com