State of Illinois Takes Action on Baby Formula Shortage

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

By: Ashmar Mandou

Outrage over the shortage of safe baby formula has spread across the country leaving elected officials scrambling for a solution. On Wednesday morning, the State of Illinois announced that vital steps to help primarily low-income families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program will be taken in coordination with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

“The ongoing formula shortage has brought undue stress into the lives of new parents, and my administration will do everything in our power to help families maintain access to formula,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We’ve partnered with our suppliers and continue to ramp up our support centers to ensure our residents, especially low-income families, have what they need to care for their babies.”

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has also trained caseworkers to assist families with formula questions IDHS Help Line at 1-800-843-6154. The Help Line is designed for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC customers primarily but is open to all residents of Illinois. As of March 2022, there were 43,568 infants active on the WIC program.

“We understand that the ongoing recall leaves parents and caregivers very concerned about how they will feed their babies and children with rare diseases and conditions who rely on formula,” said IDPH Acting Director Dr. Amaal Tokars. “We want to remind families during this time to avoid attempting to make ‘homemade’ formula, or to hoard supplies of formula from stores.” The formula shortage has been caused by a combination of issues. In mid-February, the FDA recalled products from several brands of baby formula produced by Abbott Laboratories, including some types of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare after babies became sick from consuming them.

Illinois contracts with Mead Johnson, the Chicago-based manufacturer of “Enfamil” to exclusively supply standard infant formulas for Illinois’ WIC customers. Mead Johnson has ramped up production of its two most used products by over 10 percent in March and April and 60 percent in May as compared to pre-recall.

For more information, including a list of FAQs and the most current information for Illinois consumers, please visit www.DHS.Illinois.Gov/BabyFormula.

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