- Social media pediatricians i PediPal urge people to stop sharing alternative formulas online.
- Potentially harmful recipes spread across social media platforms during the nationwide shortage.
- “There is no one size fits all,” said Dr. Ana, which is why recipes can be dangerous.
Viral social media posts offering alleged alternative recipes for infant formula have spread during the continued shortage of the product in the United States, but medical experts with online followers are speaking against the trend, calling DIY substitutes dangerous. .
Amateur formula milk recipes have spread to numerous platforms, including Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube, Bloomberg reported. While social media platforms have removed some videos that violate their rules that prohibit medical disinformation, the platforms have not removed such videos consistently, the report said.
“We understand the need to try to do anything – to help each other – but it seemed like it was just more and more different videos and recipes, all of which, if you have any kind of nutritional or medical background, you can see are extremely dangerous,” he said. said Dr. Sami, a Texas-based physician who is half of the PediPal, a pediatric duo who creates content on social media to help educate parents about childcare.
At first, Sami told Insider she only saw a few videos promoting homemade recipes. But in the end, she said she realized there were more of them and that the videos were going “more and more viral.”
Some videos promoting homemade formulas seen by Insider called for ingredients like evaporated milk and Karo syrup. Other TikTok creators have asked for hemp seeds, pitted dates, and vanilla. Some creators advise people to feed babies goat’s milk as an alternative. All of these treatment options can be potentially harmful to children, doctors told Insider.
A recipe video seen by Insider had more than 1.4 million views on Friday.
Dr. Ana, also a Texas pediatrician and the other half of the PediPals, told Insider that the videos she saw generally came from creators who appeared to “have no experience” in pediatric care.
“They say this worked for me, this worked for my mom, my grandmother, and so this should obviously work for you,” Ana said.
But that kind of “general advice” can be dangerous, he said.
“There is no one size fits all, and the formula is so well engineered and there is so much to do to get all the right nutrients and electrolytes in there because babies are very vulnerable,” Ana told Insider.
Sami’s frustration with these videos forced her to make a passionate appeal on TikTok. In the May 15 video, which has 1.2 million views, Sami urged creators to stop sharing recipes.
“In those days, infant mortality was just an accepted part of life,” Sami said in the video, responding to people sharing recipes and advice handed down from previous generations that she believes modern medicine has made obsolete.
“People were bringing out 8 to 10 children and 2 of them died,” he added. “Our children really live and we don’t want to go back in time.”
Wrong recipes could lead to health problems for children
Improper nutrition from a home-formulated recipe could lead to several problems, including electrolyte imbalances and vitamin deficiencies, which could lead to seizures, heart problems and problems with bone development, the doctors said.
“There are so many things that can happen,” Ana said. “And just because some people don’t happen doesn’t mean other kids can’t suffer from this kind of advice.”
Too much water can also be harmful to infants, the PediPal’s added.
“It’s all in the same realm of the horrible because a kitchen isn’t a sterile environment,” Sami said. “Babies are super frail, especially infants, and especially babies under the age of six months. They don’t have fully developed kidneys. They can’t just have a drink, so these recipes don’t come from a safe or test place. old ladies “.
Ana and Sami said they started PediPals in 2020 as a means to offer help and educate parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, but more recently they said they found themselves debunking dangerous misinformation spread online.
At first, the duo started a podcast, but it later spread
, including TikTok, where they recently surpassed 500,000 followers. They said they both worked full-time as pediatricians and made the social media content to the side.
While platforms like TikTok have rules banning medical misinformation, Ana and Sami are part of a whole subgenre of TikTok creators – medical experts who debunk and respond to inaccurate and dangerous misinformation spread around the app.
But speaking out against online disinformation is often difficult for creators, who previously told Insider they received death threats and harassment for creating content that they called other creators for sharing incorrect information. The PediPal’s said they faced threats for doing things like talking about vaccines, abortion, and COVID-19.
The two asked to be identified only by their names, which are also their online identity as PediPal, due to threats they have received in the past.
“Unfortunately, drug makers are being targeted,” Sami said. “You have to have a lot of courage if you want to talk about evidence-based medicine.”