Infant formula shortage could last months in Garfield County | PostIndependent.com
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Infant formula shortage could last months in Garfield County

Ike Fredregill Special to the Post Independent
Baby formula illustration.| Getty Images
Close up selective focus on breast or formula milk in the baby bottle on the bed at home with sleeping baby infant in background – newborn feeding and nursing concept concept copy space

A shortage of infant formula could affect Garfield County parents for months to come, but local and state agencies are working to reduce the impacts. 

For weeks, the nation’s supply of infant formula has dwindled, hampered by supply chain issues and recent formula product recalls, the Centers for Disease Control reported.  

“The supplies are coming in, but slowly,” said Chistine Dolan, the Garfield County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program director. “What I’m seeing on the shelf are some of the standard products and less of the specialty formulas.”



Dolan’s office uses an improvised network of coworkers and clients to monitor formula retailers’ shelves, so Dolan and her team can pass the information along to mothers in need. 

Of the Garfield County WIC program’s 1,100 users in April, Dolan said about 240 were infants, about 200 of which used formula. Those clients, however, would only be a fraction of the people relying on infant formula throughout the county, she said. 



Babies are fussy eaters, so a formula shortage can be particularly challenging as parents bounce between formula brands depending on availability. 

Dolan advised parents to stick with a single formula brand if possible, but at the end of the day, she encouraged parents to be patient with their infants’ dietary sensitivity should a change be necessary. 

WIC clients can use their benefit anywhere in the state, and the program recently loosened its regulations on the size of formula cans a client can purchase with the benefit. Prior to the shortage, Colorado’s WIC contract with Mead Johnson Nutrition for Enfamil products was specific to certain sizes of formula products — typically 12 ounces — but new U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers allow Colorado WIC users to purchase larger cans of formula with their benefits, according to http://www.coloradowic.gov.

“We hear back from clients that they’ve had better luck at bigger stores in larger cities,” Dolan said. “But, I have definitely seen parents struggling to find hypo-allergenic formulas, high-calorie formulas and specialty drinks like PediaSure.” 

Dolan’s team encourages mothers to breastfeed from birth, and she said the county has a good breastfeeding initiation rate, but once new mothers leave the hospital, breastfeeding tapers off. 

“It can happen for a variety of reasons, but the one we hear the most about is the need to return to work,” Dolan said. “Once breastfeeding is no longer regular or stopped altogether, a mother’s body can have a difficult time starting it up again.”

Banks of mother’s milk exist in Colorado, primarily for mothers whose bodies prevent them from producing milk due to a variety of health reasons, but Dolan said it was unlikely those banks’ milk stores were robust enough to significantly impact the shortage. 

“Locally, we’re doing our best to help moms understand their options for switching formulas,” she said. “We’re educating them about safety issues around formulas, such as not diluting the formula to make it last longer.”

The CDC also issued advice for parents struggling through the shortage:

  • When using infant formula: Avoid waste by placing only the amount your baby will eat in the bottle.
  • Do not dilute infant formula, which can cause nutritional imbalances and lead to serious health problems.
  • Do not make or feed your baby homemade infant formula, which can lead to serious health problems.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers advice for navigating the shortage at http://www.hhs.gov/formula, and the CDC also provides in-depth information regarding feeding infants at http://www.cdc.gov

Dolan encouraged mothers to continue checking store shelves as some retailers are getting their shipments in spurts, but information on length of the shortage is sparse. 

“No one seems to have an exact answer about how long the shortage will last,” Dolan said. “But most guesses say it will go for a couple of months.” 


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