JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Parents across Mississippi may still be experiencing shortages of infant formula. However, experts at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson said state and national efforts are underway to increase the formula supply.
“We have been blessed to have a good working relationship with suppliers who gave us a heads up at the very beginning,” said Dr. Mobolaji Famuyide, chief of the Division of Newborn Medicine at UMMC. “Obviously as providers we have had to be very resourceful to ensure we get the needed supply to the babies who need it. On the other hand, in the community, it’s been a different story.”
Manufacturers have increased production or are importing formula from Europe to meet demand, and Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan, plant is set to reopen June 4.
The federal government invoked the Defense Production Act to boost domestic infant formula production, and Operation Fly Formula was used to fly in tons of formula from other countries.
In Mississippi and many other states, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, has relaxed rules on what formula brands can be purchased with WIC benefits.
Leaders with the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) said the Mississippi WIC program remains concerned about the shortage.
The WIC program has added additional infant formula products and package sizes to the approved product list. These products will be available from May 31, 2022 to August 31, 2022.
WIC participants who are unable to find their prescribed medical formula in stores may contact their WIC clinic to quickly change to an alternate formula that is currently available. Participants can also return recalled products directly to the location of purchase for cash back, store credit, or a similar product.
The Mississippi WIC Program does not have a reserve of infant formula.
Jameshyia Ballard, Director of Vendor Management, said, “ Nationwide manufactures’ shortages means we, too, are experiencing constraints in our ability to order medical formula. These new options for WIC participants are being used to help meet the needs of families.”
The infant formula shortage started earlier this year, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned families about a formula recall of Abbott Nutrition formula manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan, including Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare.
The recall was sparked by an investigation for cronobacter sakazakii contamination. This can be serious or fatal for infants.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents buy only a 10-day to two-week supply of formula to avoid hoarding. If favorite stores and supermarkets are short on baby formula, look in other stores and pharmacies.
The AAP warns parents against watering down formula as this can lead to slowed growth, nutritional and electrolyte imbalances and other serious health conditions. In extreme situations, electrolyte imbalances could lead to seizures and death.
Babies younger than a year should not consume cow’s milk, toddler formulas, or milk substitutes such as almond milk or oat milk. Homemade formula recipes are dangerous and should not be tried.