Baby formula shortage could be over soon, but some Arizona families are still struggling
May 17, 2022, 4:45 AM | Updated: 6:31 am
PHOENIX — The shortage of infant formula continues to be a major concern for parents, even as the situation appears it may improve soon.
Many families within the Arizona Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are worried as some of the approved covered formulas are not on shelves.
Steve Elliott with the Arizona Department of Health Services said this especially applies to those in need of specialty formula, which accounts for about 15-20% of families.
He said WIC has a contract with the infant formula manufacturer Abbott, but that manufacturer was the same one hit with recalls that largely contributed to the shortage.
“The WIC program approves the type of product that you can buy with WIC funds,” Elliott said, adding they’ve been widening the net to find suitable alternatives.
“We’ve been working with Abbott and with our families to connect them with an alternative branded formula that they can use until supplies increase of that specialty formula.”
Abbott said Monday it has reached an agreement with U.S. health regulators to restart production at its largest domestic factory, but it will be well over a month before any new products ship from the site to help alleviate the national shortage facing parents.
“Over the past week or two weeks actually, we’ve seen supplies increase, so things are starting to stabilize there,” Elliott said.
He said the challenge remains that lesser-used specialty formula.
Elliott advises those who are in WIC to contact the organization for alternatives if they’re unable to find their child’s brand.
He added that if people find alternatives, they should make sure it’s safe.
“Be very careful when you’re looking for an alternative if you’re buying online or getting it from a friend,” Elliott said. “Check for that label and make sure it’s FDA approved.”
Elliott emphasizes that parents have patience and not try to make their own baby formula.
“Baby nutrition is very specific,” Elliott said. “It’s made in a way of a specific blend of nutrients that are made in a way that the body can absorb it, that an infant’s body can absorb it.”
He advises parents who have any questions regarding their child’s nutrition to contact a pediatrician, who may be able to suggest alternatives or other places to look for the formula your child needs.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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