The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program realizes the challenges that many families are facing with the current nationwide infant formula shortages. ADPH WIC is working daily to address this issue in Alabama.
ADPH WIC’s infant formula rebate contract is with Mead Johnson Nutritionals. Due to formula shortages nationwide, ADPH WIC is allowing flexibilities with some infant formulas, to include varying the forms (powder, concentrate, ready to use) and sizes issued to WIC families. WIC is allowing store returns and exchanges. ADPH WIC is in regular communication with Mead Johnson, and the company is working with distribution centers supplying Alabama retailers to keep WIC-specific products on the shelf. WIC is monitoring daily formula redemptions and has not seen a change in the redemptions for WIC recipients, at this time.
All families with infants, whether WIC participants or not, should discuss formula questions with their infant’s healthcare provider. Infant formulas can generally be found at retailers across the state to include small stores, larger chain stores, grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. Other potential sources of formula include healthcare provider sample stock, food banks and other community groups with a vested interest in families.
Families can also contact manufacturers directly for help in finding formula:
· MyGerber Baby Expert: www.gerber.com/mygerber-baby-expert
· Abbott’s Customer Service: 1-877-4Abbott or 1-800-986-8540 (recall-specific information)
· Abbott’s product request line and form for metabolic formulas: 1-800-553-7042
· Reckitt’s (Mead Johnson) Customer Service: 1-800-BABY-123 (222-9123)
Chief Medical Officer and pediatrician Dr. Karen Landers agrees that parents need to direct formula and nutritional questions to their medical providers. Landers states, “Diluting formula, making your own formula, and using formula not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration can cause your baby to become sick. Many families are able to safely feed their babies another formula when their usual formula is not in stock.”
Expectant mothers are encouraged to consider breastfeeding as a great source of nutrition for your baby. According to Pam Galloway, Nutrition Services Director for Alabama’s WIC Program, “Human breast milk has specific immunity properties that are unavailable in infant formula, is easier for babies to digest than cow’s milk, and is protective against childhood illnesses, including asthma, ear and respiratory infections, and allergies. Breastfed infants also have lower lifetime risk for some health conditions, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. Women who breastfeed for at least six months reduce their risk for Type II diabetes, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. And the longer during her lifetime that a woman breastfeeds, the greater her protection is against these diseases.”
WIC realizes that these are stressful times and support is needed when choosing to breastfeed. Support for breastfeeding mothers is available through local healthcare facilities, community groups, and online groups. Support for WIC participants is provided through Alabama’s WIC clinics located in county health departments and other private local agencies across the state.
To learn more about Alabama’s WIC program, please visit www.alabamapublichealth.gov/wic.