DOVER — The Division of Public Health is providing guidance to families struggling to find formula due to a shortage caused by supply chain issues, including avoiding certain measures that could be harmful to their infant’s health.
DPH sent out a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 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 baby’s 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 manufacturer’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 and Food and Drug Administration, homemade formulas often lack or have inadequate amounts of critical nutrients vital for a baby’s 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.
• If not receiving breast milk, formula should be used until your baby turns 1 year old. If your child is over 6 months, you can start to supplement nutrition with some solids. Talk to your pediatrician about introducing solids like fortified cereal, mashed bananas and pureed poultry and beans.
• Breastfeed your child: When possible, breastfeeding is the healthiest option for children under age 1.
• 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 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 at dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/familychildren.html (click on WIC, then Breastfeeding Support).
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 other state agency food pantries.
• WIC recipients 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.
• 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.