ON YOUR SIDE: WIC warns against making baby formula amid shortages

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 9:01 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - KY3 reported that the nationwide baby formula shortage had impacted families across the Ozarks. Viewers since the story have posted recipes for homemade formula.

WIC nutritionist and lactation consultant Tawana Frazier urges families not to make their formula.

Frazier says not only is your kitchen at home not considered clean enough, but these recipes don’t have enough of the nutrients your baby would need.

”Store-bought formula is the most regulated food that there is out there,” Frazier says. “It is highly measured down to the gram of ingredients that the infant needs. The cleaning and safety of the kitchens are so stringent.”

Frazier says that there’s a high risk for contamination if you are making your formula.

Frazier says that even changing one ingredient can lead to a significant health risk for an infant.

“If you over-dilute something, then that can cause water intoxication for an infant,” Frazier says. “They’re going to really be lacking in calcium which is the main one that’s going to be low. Some of the ingredients that are recommended to add can be hazards for food-borne illness, such as Karo syrup. It can carry the spores for botulism which has very fatal effects for infants.”

Taylor Gold is struggling to find formula for her seven-month-old baby girl.

Since her baby was born pre-mature, Gold says having the proper nutrients is crucial. That’s why Gold thinks she would never make formula herself.

“There’s a lot of bad things into doing that,” Gold says. “It could be infections, seizures. It can cause death in a lot of it. I know I’ve seen a lot of moms say you can do that, but it’s not good for them because there’s so much stuff that can go wrong in doing that.”

Leah Vandiver has made formula for her kids, saying she got a recipe from her pediatrician. She finds it cheaper and Vandiver says she knows what’s going into her baby.

“For the ingredients, we buy all-natural organic non-GMO ingredients for that, so it’s organic black molasses which provides iron and natural sugars rather than the processed syrupy sugars that most formulas use,” Vandiver says.

If you are struggling to find formula, Frazier recommends that people switch to a different formula that can be found on the shelves.

“Reach out to your doctor’s offices,” Frazier says. “Sometimes they are getting the sample size cans from the representatives since that is not being affected by the supply.”

Frazier says if your baby is old enough to start having soft-cooked table foods safely, you can increase the solid foods slightly.

“That way, they are taking in less formula,” Frazier says.

There have been posts online with women selling their breast milk. Frazier also raises concerns over that, saying it’s hard to regulate that someone is taking the proper hygiene steps.

“It’s really not recommended at all,” Frazier says. “Whatever is in your blood supply is in your breast milk, so if a mother has a virus or bacteria or even a disease, that can be passed from mom to your baby.”

Frazier says some people may not be honest with their health history.

“You really don’t know what’s in that breast milk,” Frazier says. “You also don’t know the sanitation they use in collecting the breast milk, how clean the pump was, if they stored it properly. That really does increase the risk for bacteria and causing a sick baby.”

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department warns against homemade formula:

Parents and other caregivers should not make or feed homemade infant formula to infants. Without proper regulation, homemade infant formula may lack proper ingredients that are vital to infant growth and can cause life-threatening foodborne illnesses when consumed. It is recommended to contact your health care provider and receive care immediately if your infant has consumed any homemade formula

Furthermore, diluting formula (mixing with more water to make it last longer) is not recommended as this can cause water intoxication for infants.

Springfield-Greene County WIC has made some alternative formulas available. For specialty formula, parents and caregivers can talk to their health care provider or they can try the ready-to-feed version of their existing formula. In regard to WIC they will have to come into the office to get their benefits changed.

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