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Health Alert: Information for Tompkins County Families Amid Nationwide Infant Formula Shortages

(Ithaca, NY, May 19, 2022) - The Tompkins County Health Department is alerting local families to information on how to access resources and infant formula amid ongoing shortages. For those who are struggling to afford groceries or infant formula, the Tompkins County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program may be able to help.

Regarding formula availability, TCHD encourages families to do the following:

  • Check the lot code on any formula that you already have to make sure it was not a part of the Abbott Nutrition recall of specific lots of Similac, Alimentum and Elecare powdered formulas. If your formula was not a part of the recall, it is safe to use. Please discard any formula that is expired and be sure to follow the formula manufacturer's preparation and storage instructions.
  • Reach out to your child’s healthcare provider to see if they have formula samples available. They can also suggest nutritionally similar formulas that may be more readily available. If another brand is available and recommended by your child’s healthcare provider, consider switching.
  • Visit smaller stores, pharmacies, or drugstores to check what is in stock. Call stores first to know what’s available before you go. If supplies are limited, ask a pharmacist about when more might be available.
  • Look online for options available but be sure to only order from well-recognized distributors and pharmacies. Do not buy formula online from people you don't know on social media sites, online auctions, or overseas.
  • Do not use toddler formula to feed infants.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly advises against watering down formula or trying to make infant formula at home. Although recipes for homemade formulas may seem healthy or less expensive, they may not be safe and may not meet your baby's nutritional needs.
  • Do not hoard formula, which will further impact the supply chain and other families in the community.

Public Health Director Frank Kruppa stated, “The formula shortage may understandably cause alarm, frustration and stress for families, but please be assured that formula production continues, and the supply chain shortage is temporary. Contact your child’s healthcare provider for support in navigating how to best introduce your infant to a new formula if needed and do not resort to home-made formulas as an alternative. For families struggling to afford groceries and formula, Tompkins County’s WIC program is here to help.”

Resources are available through the Tompkins County WIC program for families struggling to afford groceries or infant formula. WIC has qualified nutrition staff that can offer helpful advice on keeping your family healthy. WIC can help connect you with other resources and services in the community including healthcare, counseling, additional food assistance, and more. WIC provides food packages designed specifically for families who are expecting and/or have children under age 5.

Contact TCHD’s Women, Infants and Children Office by calling 607-274-6630 or prescreen with Wanda, WIC's online chatbot, to see if your family is eligible for WIC benefits. Follow Tompkins County WIC on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TompkinsWIC/.

The Tompkins County WIC program also provides breastfeeding support and resources to new families.

  • Expectant individuals are encouraged to consult with a provider about breastfeeding their infant. 
  • WIC offers breastfeeding peer counselors so you can talk with someone who has shared experience and can offer support.
Families feeding a baby with human milk from a source other than the baby's mother should only use milk from a source that has screened its milk donors and taken other precautions to ensure the safety of its milk.

The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth. Sign up to receive COVID-19 updates or other county announcements via email or text.

Media contact: Shannon Alvord, salvord@tompkins-co.org

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