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FDA Warns Parents Against Use of Homemade Infant Formula

Feeding homemade formula to infants can lead to severe side effects and health risks, according to a warning issued this week by federal health regulators.

In a parent advisory issued on February 24, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration indicates infants should not be fed homemade formula because it can lead to nutritional deficiencies and health problems, including cardiac arrest.

The agency has received multiple reports of children requiring serious medical attention after being fed homemade infant formulas and homemade vegan infant formulas. Several children suffered heart and nervous system problems. One child suffered cardiac arrest and brain damage. The agency also received reports of hospitalized infants suffering from low calcium; a condition known as hypocalcemia.

Infant formula is specially formulated to account for the specific needs of infants and can be their source of nutrition. If the formula does not contain the appropriate vitamins, minerals and nutrition for a growing infant, the child can experience serious malnutrition and side effects.

Because of the specific formulation needed for infant formula, the FDA strictly regulates the products. Homemade infant formula recipes are not evaluated or regulated by the agency, and may lack nutrients vital to an infant’s growth.

Homemade infant formula side effects may include severe nutritional imbalances and a risk of food borne illnesses, which can also sicken a child, the FDA warns.

Recipes for homemade formula circulating online may include ingredients like unpasteurized milk, protein powders, and vitamin and mineral supplements meant for adults. These ingredients may not be safe or appropriate for a developing infant.

The FDA warning calls on parents and caregivers to not use homemade infant formula and to not feed it to their children.

Parents or caregivers of infants who have consumed a homemade infant formula should contact their doctor and report any symptoms to their local Health Department. Symptoms and side effects should also be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event reporting program.

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