COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The baby formula shortage is impacting millions of families in the U.S. and here in Ohio.

With that in mind, state health officials announced Wednesday that they have requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allow for greater flexibility in order to expand access to infant formula.

The flexibility would come through the WIC program. While the state contracts with Mead Johnson for formula and not Abbott, the company experiencing the shortage, USDA waivers would extend flexibility to families buying formula using WIC benefits.

“We recognize that many Ohio families are finding themselves struggling to find appropriate food for their infants, and we are advocating for them,” said Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff. “We have been in ongoing and direct communication with formula manufacturers, and USDA and HHS leadership, urging them to do all they can to promptly reduce barriers to formula access.”

The WIC program has waivers in place to add additional formula choices and size options for specialty formulas impacted by the shortage, this request would broaden that.

WIC staff are working closely with impacted participants to help them locate the appropriate formula,
including contacting physicians and retail outlets to problem solve and identify additional options.     

For families impacted by the infant formula shortage, the department recommends:

  • Never dilute your formula. Diluting infant formula with water or other liquids can be dangerous and even life-threatening for babies.
  • Do not try to make homemade formula. Homemade formulas often have inadequate amounts of critical
    nutrients. Other consequences can include severe nutritional imbalances to foodborne illnesses, both of which can be life-threatening.
  • • Consult with your infant/child’s healthcare provider for specific nutrition recommendations as they will know best what is right for your child.
  • Call the store to ask about product availability. If you do not see the formula you need on the shelf, consider kindly asking a store associate for assistance.
  • If you rely on WIC benefits for your formula and are unable to locate it at a WIC vendor, consider going to a nonWIC store to purchase formula with your SNAP or TANF benefits.
  • Consider talking to the pharmacy to ask for help if your child is on a specialized formula.
  • If your child is on a specialty or medical formula, call their healthcare provider to ask about adjusting their
    prescription to an appropriate alternative formula.
  • If you need help increasing milk supply, reach out to WIC for help or call the 24/7 Breastfeeding Hotline at 888-588-3423 or text “BFHOTLINE” to 839863.
  • If funds are available, and a medical need is present, pasteurized donor milk may be available, at cost, through the Ohio Health Mother’s Milk Bank: (614) 566-0630.
  • Those participating in WIC may contact the state office at 1-800-755-GROW (4769) or their local WIC office for assistance

Patty Coller contributed to this report.