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Baby Formula Shortage a 'Very Dire' Situation for Ohio Families

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Thursday, May 12, 2022   

The nationwide shortage of baby formula has many Ohio families scrambling to feed their little ones.

Just a couple of months after a baby-formula recall, the out-of-stock rate hit 40%, and several major retailers are rationing sales.

Benisha Wright of Reynoldsburg has two children younger than age two, who both rely on formula for all of their nutrition.

"They've been changed from one formula to another. Even with that, there's just not enough," Wright emphasized. "I travel about six different stores on three different days looking for the formulas, and so my life is very busy."

Because Wright's children are in the WIC program, she's limited to purchasing certain sizes and brands.

Hope Lane-Gavin, health equity fellow at the Center for Community Solutions, explained more than 36,000 Ohio infants in the WIC program depend on formula to meet their nutritional needs.

"There are a lot of folks trying to figure out what the best course of action is and what is the quickest course of action," Lane-Gavin observed. "Because obviously this is a very dire situation."

Some groups are calling on the White House to use the Defense Production Act to address the crisis.

Katherine Unger, policy associate for the Children's Defense Fund of Ohio, said along with the shortages the cost of baby formula is rising.

"There are actual bidding wars going on online for these cans of formula," Unger reported. "They'll be listed at $100 on eBay right now, which means of course that only those with disposable income are able to get that formula and feed their babies."

Lane-Gavin advised experts are cautioning parents against watering down formula, using recalled formula or giving cow's milk to a child before the age of one.

"If you cannot access or cannot find your formula, talk to your pediatrician to figure out the best options available to you," Lane-Gavin urged. "Sometimes pediatric offices have formula that they can order, and sometimes they'll choose to move your baby to baby food sooner."

The FDA said it is working with manufacturers to increase output.

Disclosure: Children's Defense Fund-OH Chapter/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Education, Health Issues, and Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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