Despite heavy demand, several retail giants like Wal-Mart, Walgreen, Kroger and Safeway have pulled Enfamil baby formula products off its shelves, following the death of an infant.
A baby boy in Lebanon, Missouri, died as a result of infection from a bacterium - Cronobacter sakazakii - and medical experts believe Enfamil's products to be responsible. However, the Food and Drug Authorities (FDA) have yet to make an official statement; apart from confirming they are investigating the matter.
Meanwhile, the sudden withdrawal of Enfamily's products (and the associated fear of infections from similar products) has created a great deal of trouble for mothers who formula feed their children.
The decision on which formula to use, at any time, is a difficult one... given the several nutritional and dietary requirements of infants and their particular idiosyncrasies.
Most medical experts concur that nothing can equal the benefits of breast milk. However, for those mothers who are either unable to breastfeed or choose not to, baby formula can be a good alternative.
In such cases, the first thing to remember is that the FDA (and the Infant Formula Acts of 1980 and 1986) has an exhaustive list of minimum requirements and quality control measures for baby formulas.
For example, according to the FDA, infant formula is defined as a complete or partial substitute for human milk. Its regulations clearly specify which nutrients must be present and at what minimum level. It also includes a complete list of minimum requirement of maximum permissible levels of protein, fat, sodium, potassium, chloride, iron, iodine and vitamins A and D as well as label declarations for all nutrients.
The second thing to remember is that there are several products (and varieties) in the market - milk-based, gentle, lactose-free, starch-rich, soya-rich and amino acid-based formulas.
Photo Credit: Similac
Every competing brand of infant formula tries to offer consumers something special for the child; an alternative to Enfamil are Similac and Nestle Good Start.
Abbott Laboratories' Similac is, according to a Reuters report, the No. 2 formula brand in the U.S. The formula comes in five categories - Baby Care, Advanced, Sensitive, Expert Care and Go Grow - all of which, the company claims, has immune-supporting nucleotides, prebiotics and carotenoids, nutrients found in breast milk. It should be helpful to note it does not contain palm olein (a low-melting fraction of palm oil). According to research conducted scientists from the Department of Pediatrics in the University of Iowa, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1996, calcium is less well absorbed by palm olein, as compared to coconut oil. In addition to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), which are synthesized versions of essential fatty acids found in breast milk, it has Lutein that is helpful for baby's brain and eye development.
Photo Credit: Nestle
A second option could be Nestle's Good Start - a product the company claims is an iron-fortified infant formula made up of milk proteins that helps in reducing the possibilities of allergic reactions. Also, according to a report by nutritiondata.self.com, the product is low in sodium and a good source of Vitamins C and D, as well as calcium.