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Baby formula shortage hits Cowlitz County families

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FDA Moves to Ease Nationwide Shortage of Baby Formula

Baby bottles. 

A baby formula shortage is affecting families nationwide, including in Cowlitz County, where local social service agencies and programs are advising people how to find food for their children.

Why the shortage?

A recall of certain formula products earlier this year exacerbated a shortage from pandemic-related supply chain issues, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In February, Abbott Nutrition recalled certain batches of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powder formulas because of contamination at a Michigan facility, according to the FDA. Consumers can check if their formula is affected at

Health departments alert families about infant formula recall

Local advice

Cowlitz County families having trouble finding the formula they need have reached out to local agencies and programs. Sometimes babies require a certain type of formula due to medical reasons.

The Longview Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program, or WIC, office receives calls “all day long” from people trying find formula, according to a representative.

WIC provides low-income families with nutrition education, breastfeeding support, health screenings and referrals and supplements purchasing healthy foods, including formula.

When families enroll in WIC, they get benefits to help pay for the formula they need for their infant. If they can’t find their brand because of the shortage, they can call the WIC office to change it, according to the state Department of Health.

The Longview WIC has advised people to shop around different stores and check with food banks. If a store with formula doesn’t accept WIC, the local office suggests paying out of pocket for supplies.

Nurses serving Clark and Cowlitz County families in the Nurse-Family Partnership, or NFP, program have heard from many who are struggling to find formula, said Stefanie Donahue, communications manager for Health and Human Services. The program, which matches low-income pregnant women with nurses to help them, currently serves 35 Cowlitz County families.

Participating families should all be eligible for WIC, and nurses are referring them to WIC for assistance, Donahue said. Nurses are also advising families of health concerns with diluting formula or using substitutes that are not recommended, she said.

Families who do not participate in the NFP program should talk to their child’s pediatrician before changing brands, trying formula alternatives or considering switching to breastfeeding.

It is not safe to water down formula or use homemade formula, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Babies older than 6 months can have whole cow’s milk for a brief time in a pinch but it is not ideal nor should become a routine, according to the academy.


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