HEALTH REPORT Local experts explain formula shortage and oer resources
2022 HEALTH CARE EDITION
BY GLORIE MARTINEZ
center open to all Austin residents. The center can provide lactation consultants and registered nutri- tionists, and dietitians can provide formula alternatives. Some families have sought donated breast milk in the wake of the short- age, turning to Facebook groups such as Human Milk 4 Human Babies, where women can donate milk or oer wet nursing services for free. Austinite Katie Crandall became a donor in the group’s Texas chapter last November. She donates to four area families and provides about 80 to 100 ounces of milk each time. “If you’re a donor, you make a post in the group saying, ‘This is who I am; this is how much milk I have to oer.’ You disclose any medications you’re taking and your COVID-19 vaccination status,” Crandall said. Breast milk donated informally is not accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North Amer- ica, and Abrams said he “strongly discouraged” receiving breast milk from strangers but said each family will make an individual decision. Overall, the shortage exposed changes needed in the formula supply chain, Abrams said. Abbott restarted some production at its Michigan plant in the rst week of June, after reaching an agreement with the Food and Drug Administra- tion to reopen the plant May 16. “It will get better,” Abrams said. “But we need to make sure the supply chain is much more robust than it is right now.”
With the local and nationwide formula shortage expected to last another two to four months, accord- ing to Dr. Steven Abrams, a pediatrics professor at The University of Texas at Austin, local experts are providing options for families. Abbott Nutrition’s factory in Mich- igan—the largest formula producer in the U.S. which produced Similac and other products—shut down in February after four infants fell ill and two died after consuming formula produced at the plant. Abrams said infants with allergies and special needs as well as low-in- come families are disproportionately impacted by the shortage. Up to 75% of U.S. caregivers par- tially depend on formula for infants 6 months old and under, according to a May 25 congressional memo. Diana Flores, community engage- ment coordinator for Austin’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, said the city can help families nd alternative formula options. “Before, families were only able to get the Similac brand with their WIC card,” Flores said. “With the shortage, the Texas WIC program expanded the options.” Austin’s WIC program runs a Facebook group called ATX Family Care, Flores said. Local moms use the group to nd stores where formula is in stock. Flores also encouraged mothers to visit Mom’s Place, a city-run lactation
Formula shelves at the HEB in Southwest Austin were mostly empty June 3. GLORIE MARTINEZCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER FORMULA SOLUTIONS As baby formula continues to be scarce, the Texas Department of Health and Human Services is providing families with alternative formula suggestions for Similac— previously, the only formula covered by Texas WIC and one of the scarcest formulas due to the factory that shut down.
SIMILAC TOTAL COMFORT 12.6 OZ.: • Enfamil Gentlease • Enfamil Reguline Powder • Gerber Good Start SoothePro • Parent’s Choice Gentle at Walmart SIMILAC FOR SPITUP 12.5 OZ.: • Enfamil AR SIMILAC ELECARE: Contact your doctor to determine the best alternative for your baby. Prescription required
SIMILAC ADVANCE 12.4 OZ.: • Enfamil Infant
• Gerber Good Start Gentle • Baby Advantage at H-E-B • Nestle Nan Pro 1 • Parent’s Choice Infant at Walmart • Parent’s Choice Advantage at Walmart SIMILAC ALIMENTUM 12.6 OZ.: • Comforts Hypoallergenic Powder at Kroger • Baby Hypoallergenic Powder at H-E-B • Parent’s Choice Hypoallergenic Powder at Walmart • Tippy Toes Hypoallergenic at Brookshires. Prescription required
For a full list of alternatives, visit www.texaswic.org/about-wic/special-wic-food-updates.
SOURCE: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICESCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
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NORTH CENTRAL AUSTIN EDITION • JUNE 2022
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