The West Piedmont Health District (WPHD) is working to combat the baby formula shortage by providing formula and information to those in need.
Nancy Bell, public information officer for the WPHD, said the district is currently working with partners like the Franklin County Perinatal Education Center to help caregivers get access to formula.
Participants in the WIC program may drop off recalled formula and pick up available formula at the local offices.
“They get some formula, and we get some formula through our WIC (Women Infants and Children) program, and we’re trying to work together to make sure our babies locally get what they need one way or another,” she said. “Whatever we get we freely share.”
Bell said the problem is that there are a lot of different types of formula on the market, and sometimes babies can only use one very specific type.
“It’s hard to get the exact one that a mom or dad needs. I would really hate to be in that situation right now. It must be very frustrating and scary,” she said.
While it is unknown how long the shortage will last, Bell expects the supply to improve in the next three months as formula production is expected to increase.
“I’m sure everyone’s scrambling trying to help. I know there are family and church groups that are trying to see what they can get ahold of. Some parents have been very good about trying to share,” she said.
She has also not heard of any babies going to the hospital for dehydration in the health district even though “that is happening across the country.”
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) website advises families to not use ‘home’ recipes for making one’s own formula, dilute the formula, or alter package instructions “as these practices can have severe, at times fatal, consequences for the infant.”
Families are also encouraged to only purchase a 10-14 day supply each time, because stockpiling will only make the shortages worse.
“Consider purchasing formula online. Only purchase from well-established distributors and pharmacies. However, do not buy formula online from a vendor outside the United States, as it is not guaranteed to be FDA (Food and Drug Administration) compliant,” the website stated.
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to go to www.vdh.virginia.gov or visit their local health department for additional information on the formula shortage. For information regarding Virginia WIC-approved formulas and substitutions, visit www.VirginiaWIC.com.