Current Guidance on Nationwide Formula Shortage

Dear Early Childhood Professional,

Nationwide, we are experiencing an infant formula shortage. You, or your families, may be feeling the impact of this issue. It is of critical importance that we maintain practices that keep our children safe.

Please find further explanation and resources from Delaware Public Health and the United States Department of Agriculture  below.

Thank you for adjusting your practice with the children in your care because of this shortage. We will update you with information as we receive it.

Best,

Caitlin Gleason, M.Ed.

Associate Secretary

Early Childhood Support

Delaware Department of Education

Caitlin.Gleason@doe.k12.de.us

Keeping Infants Safe in Midst of Formula Shortages

By Cindy Long, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service

There are few things that worry a parent more than their children’s health and safety. The ongoing infant formula shortage due to supply chain issues, which worsened due to a major formula recall in February, has left many caregivers feeling concerned and anxious about their options for safely feeding their infants.

Families receiving formula through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC, are among the many affected by the recall. The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service are taking many actions to help ensure WIC participants can get safe formula to nourish their babies.

Some steps you can take to ensure the safety of your infant’s formula include:

Please note: Only medical professionals are qualified to provide advice on acceptable alternatives to formulas that may currently be difficult to find. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers tips for parents and caregivers who are struggling to find baby formula during the shortage. Please talk with your pediatrician about safe and appropriate feeding alternatives for your child if needed.

The Food and Nutrition Service takes seriously its role in making sure infants served by FNS programs, including WIC, have access to the safe, healthy food they need to thrive. We are committed to helping families navigate this difficult time.

 

DPH OFFERS GUIDANCE AND RESOURCES ON HOW TO NAVIGATE THE INFANT FORMULA SUPPLY SHORTAGE

DOVER (May 17, 2022)  The Division of Public Health (DPH) is providing guidance to families struggling to find formula due to a shortage caused by a supply chain issues, including avoiding taking certain measures that could be harmful to their infant’s health.

DPH sent out a letter from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau to families and maternal child health stakeholders, offering individuals information on how to safely navigate the shortages.

Parents and caregivers are offered the following guidance:

  •  Talk to your doctor: Families should consult their pediatrician to discuss the best options for their child. Doctors can provide guidance on comparable formula and specialized formula to meet their babies’ medical and nutrition needs.
  • Consider a substitute formula: For most babies, it is OK to use a similar version of their formula if their regular brand of formula is not currently available. Talk with your baby’s pediatrician about alternatives.
  • Check the manufacture’s site online for formula availability before going to a store to purchase.

DPH reminds parents/guardians:

  • Do not make or use homemade formula: Per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), homemade formulas often lack or have inadequate amounts of critical nutrients vital for a babies growth and development and in some cases can cause infants to be hospitalized due to low calcium.
  • Never dilute formula: Watering down infant formula can be dangerous and even life-threatening, leading to a serious nutritional deficit and health issues.
  • Consider a substitute formula: For most babies, if their regular brand of formula is not currently available, using a similar version of their formula is ok. Talk with your baby’s pediatrician about alternatives.
  • If not receiving breast milk, formula should be used until your baby turns 1 year old, but if your child is over six months you can start to supplement nutrition with some solids. Talk to your pediatrician about introducing some solids like fortified cereal, mashed bananas and pureed poultry and beans.
  • Talk to your doctor: Families should consult their pediatrician to discuss the best options for their child. Doctors can provide guidance on comparable formula and specialized formula to meet their babies’ medical and nutrition needs.
  • Breastfeed your child: When possible, breastfeeding is the healthiest option for children under age 1.
  • For parents who are breastfeeding or need additional support, they may want to consider a lactation consultant or support groups, or seek assistance to access a breast pump at a low cost through your insurance provider, Medicaid, or WIC to assist with milk supply. There are also breast milk banks that properly store, test and distribute donated mothers’ milk to meet the specific needs of infants for whom human milk is prescribed by physicians.  The Delaware WIC program offers breastfeeding assistance to new mothers, including peer counselors, lactation consultants and manual pumps. Details on WIC’s breastfeeding programs can be found here.

DPH has also taken the following steps to help parents and caregivers as the supply chain issues get resolved nationwide:

  • WIC recipients have been asked to return any unused formula to the Food Bank of Delaware or another state agency food pantries.
  • WIC recipients also were granted a waiver to substitute formula this winter when supply chain issues that were made worse by a recall first emerged. A chart of formula alternatives was created to help parents and caregivers select the right formula for their child.
  • Parents who are breastfeeding or need additional support may want to consider a lactation consultant or support groups, or seek assistance to access a breast pump at a low cost through their insurance provider, Medicaid, or WIC to assist with milk supply. The Delaware WIC program offers breastfeeding assistance to new mothers, including peer counselors, lactation consultants and manual pumps. Details on WIC’s breastfeeding programs can be found here.
  • DPH reminds parents that state and community resources that could be helpful during this time are available, such as WIC, SNAP, or TANF to help with the cost of buying formula or to find other infant supplies through local food banks including the Food Bank of Delaware. DPH also offers a breastfeeding guide for mothers who want to find support or learn more about breastfeeding.
  •    Several birth hospitals in Delaware also offer breastfeeding support and parent education. Individuals should check with their local hospital to see what services are offered.

Delawareans are encouraged to visit dethrives.com for up-to-date information on Delaware’s response to the infant formula supply chain issues, call 211 for community resources and services near you, or follow DEThrives and DPH on Facebook and Instagram.

Anyone who is deaf, hard of hearing, Deaf-Blind or speech disabled can contact DPH by dialing 711 first using specialized devices (i.e., TTY, TeleBraille, voice devices). The 711 service is free and to learn more about how it works, please visit delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.

Timothy Turane

Media Relations Coordinator

Office of Communication (OComms)

Delaware Department of Health and Social Services

Division of Public Health

417 Federal St., Dover, DE 19901

Office: 302-744-4725

timothy.turane@delaware.gov

Follow DPH on Facebook and Instagram:

https://www.facebook.com/DEPublicHealth/

https://www.instagram.com/depublichealth/

 

My Child DE is a user-friendly website that brings together resources to help families, providers and other caretakers make informed choices for the children of Delaware. The goal of My Child DE is to help these groups feel welcome, informed and empowered to engage, learn and take the next steps needed to support children.