LOCAL NEWS

Don’t try this at home: WA WIC director warns against DIY baby formula

May 12, 2022, 2:22 PM
Baby formula is offered for sale (Getty Images)...
Baby formula is offered for sale (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Like the rest of the country, Washington is undergoing a major baby formula shortage.

Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions had already been causing shortages for formula, but the issue was exacerbated in February when Abbott Nutrition issued a national recall for three brands of formula and shut down its Michigan plant over formula contamination. Two babies died and two others were hospitalized with Cronobacter bacterial infections after consuming formula made at the plant.

“Here in Washington, it hit us hard. We have about 18,000 babies who use formula made by that company that was part of the recall,” said Paul Throne, director of the state’s Washington Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program. The WIC Program provides food, nutrition education, health services, and more to families in need across the state.

What’s behind the baby formula shortage?

Then there are the thousands of babies who are not part of the WIC Program.

“We think about an equal number of kids who aren’t on WIC probably were also affected by the recalled formula,” Throne said.

While breastfeeding is “the best way to feed an infant if the family can breastfeed,” Throne said many families cannot breastfeed, or at least cannot exclusively breastfeed, due to health conditions. In his position as WIC director, he sees the lengths parents who rely on formula are going to to feed their children.

“The struggle is very real. We hear reports of people going from town to town, store to store, and even going from county to county before they can find the infant formula that’s right for their child,” Throne said.

One of these lengths, however, is too far. Throne said that some people online are sharing information on how to make DIY baby formula at home with ingredients like evaporated milk.

“It might be tempting to try to make formula at home, but it is extremely discouraged,” Throne said. “And the reason is, we cannot make formula in our own kitchens that actually contains all the nutrients a baby needs, and we can’t make it under sterile conditions.”

After all, the Abbott formula was recalled in the first place because of a lack of cleanliness. According to the CDC, cronobacter can get into formula at home, from surfaces like counters.

Parents who are not able to find their usual formula should contact their baby’s doctor to see if there is another brand that might work in its place for their baby’s individual needs.

“Some formulas do have good substitutes that are easy to find, and some of them are very special and it’s not quite as easy to find a different one that would work,” he said. “Definitely talk to your child’s health care provider and see what they recommend.”

People in the WIC program are urged to call their local WIC clinic, and those not in the WIC Program should contact WIC at 1-800-322-2588 to see if they qualify.

“We serve almost a quarter of a million people in Washington every year on the WIC Program, and there are still more that could be served that just don’t know about it,” Throne said, adding, “It’s also important for people to know that WIC is something they may be eligible for, even if they haven’t thought of it before, or maybe they assumed that they weren’t eligible.”

Then there is the issue of people not buying the formula that actually is on the shelves, because they are nervous about formula from Abbott. Throne wants people to remember that formula on the shelves is safe, as it is not the same lot numbers that were recalled.

“One of the best things people can do is help spread the word that formula is safe — if it’s on the shelf, it’s an approved product,” Throne said.

Throne says the shortage should get better as Abbott works to get back on track. The federal government is also working with other formula companies on increasing output and with foreign countries about possibly importing more formula.

Local News

(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)...
MyNorthwest Staff

Copper River Salmon is back with its most inflated price yet

Alaska’s Copper River salmon arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Tuesday morning, marking the start of the season for the popular fish.
1 day ago
Students working in a sloyd room at the Indian Industrial School. (Photo courtesy of the William A....
Frank Sumrall

Federal Indian boarding schools implemented systematic cultural whitewashing, new report reveals

The U.S. Interior Department published a report detailing the atrocities committed at boarding schools against Indigenous people. 
1 day ago
vouchers...
Dalton Day

What Seattle’s recent election reveals about the success of democracy vouchers

Andrew Grant Houston's campaign for mayor asks questions about the success or failure of Seattle's democracy vouchers program.
1 day ago
Blood reserves are filtered and processed in the central laboratory of the DRK blood donation servi...
Nicole Jennings

PNW blood platelet shortage no longer ‘critical,’ but 2,000 donations still needed

The Pacific Northwest is in need of thousands of blood platelet donations. Blood platelets stop us from bleeding to death when we have a cut.
1 day ago
Follow @http://twitter.com/Mynorthwest...
MyNorthwest Staff

ORCA overhauls system with added features and updated card readers

ORCA's highly-anticipated new website, smartphone app, and real-time value loading for cards launched today for hundred of thousands of transit customers.
2 days ago
ExperTec Automotive technician Adelmo Rodriguez etches a catalytic converter with the cars license ...
Micki Gamez

Catalytic converter theft runs rampant in Seattle, nation sees dramatic increase

Catalytic converters became a hot commodity during the pandemic due to the high-priced metals, such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium, within them.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Don’t try this at home: WA WIC director warns against DIY baby formula