BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the face of a nationwide baby formula shortage, the Maryland Department of Health is advising families to keep in close contact with their child’s health care provider and encouraging residents to see if they’re eligible for WIC benefits.
Across the country, more than 40% of the top-selling formulas are out of stock after manufacturer Abbott was forced to close down a plant linked to several infant hospitalizations, including two deaths.
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“MDH is working with federal, state, local, and community partners to ensure Maryland families with newborns and infants have the information they need regarding options during this national formula shortage and recent recalls,” said Health Secretary Dennis Schrader. “We will continue to monitor all aspects of the formula shortage and encourage families to access the numerous resources available to stay up to date.”
Abbott recalled three popular brands of powdered infant formula in February due to four complaints of the common environmental bacterium Cronobacter sakazakii.
In light of the resulting shortages, the Maryland Department of Health is urging residents not to dilute formulas or use homemade ones.
“If feeding a baby with human milk from a source other than the baby’s mother, you should only use milk from a source that has screened its milk donors and taken other precautions to ensure the safety of the milk,” the agency said.
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It’s OK to switch to a different brand if it’s available, and parents whose babies require special formula should consult with their child’s pediatrician about comparable brands, the department said.
Anyone who can’t find specialty formula can use the following resources:
WIC participants should contact their local office for assistance locating formula or making changes to their benefits. Marylanders wishing to enroll in the program can visit the Maryland WIC website or call 1-800-242-4942 to find out if they are eligible.
The program has expanded allowable sizes, brands and types of formula available to enrollees.
The department also released several resources about breastfeeding:
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“During this challenging time, we encourage families who are struggling to find baby formula to contact their child’s primary health care provider,” said Maryland American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Debbie Badawi. “Your local pediatric health care providers can help you during this time. The Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has been working with pediatricians in Maryland to make sure they are aware of possible resources. We also remind families to never dilute your formula as this could make your baby very ill.”