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Formula shortages hard on Tucson families with infants | Local news – Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona 2022-05-14 10:00:00 –

Tucson’s mother, Serena Gustafsson, knows the terrible stress of feeding her baby, but is an unreliable source of food to keep her prosperous.

Gustafsson’s daughter has a serious food allergy and needs amino acid-based formulas to help her grow.

“She wasn’t gaining weight. It was miserable for months, but now she’s thriving because she’s using this (brand),” Gustafsson said in late December. Mentioned changing Amelia’s prescription to a special prescription. According to her pediatrician, Dr. Nicole Abdi of the Mesquite Pediatrics.

Amelia finally got rid of her abdominal pain and her reflux disease improved significantly until February.

At that time, certain formulas manufactured by Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare were recalled. The recall included the closure of the Abbott Nutrition processing plant in Sturgis, Michigan. Two of those babies died.

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As of last week, according to national news reports, the out-of-stock rate of infant formula reached 43%. Photos of stores nationwide show an empty or near empty shelf of infant formula. There is also a shortage of formulas in Tucson.

The national shortage of infant formula began in October and is a pandemic-related supply chain issue, said Monica Nicholas, WIC Diet Services Manager in Pima County. WIC stands for Women, Infants and Children and is a federal program that supports infants up to the age of 5 at risk of undernourishment.

The difficulty for WIC recipients is that Arizona’s computer system is configured to get the same kind of expressions that WIC cardholders normally use, but it’s not always due to the lack. Not always available.

To buy another of the three major brands Enfamil, Similac and Gerber, you need to call and change your card. These days it’s been hard to find these brands, generic store brands are available, but the cards haven’t been approved.

To make changes to the card to allow generic brand purchases, the state must update its computer system. There are over 100 store brand formulas that need to be added.

Steve Elliott, a spokesman for the Arizona Health Department, has been working to expand the WIC program when brand options become available.

According to Elliott, store brands are currently not available in the WIC program, but they are exploring the possibility of adding generic brands. Meanwhile, he said he was working with his family to help them find alternatives. If you need help, you can call the state WIC Helpline (866) 927-8390 or send an email. azwicshoppershelpline@azdhs.gov..

“At this point, families may need to visit many stores to get different prescriptions,” Elliott wrote to Arizona Daily Star by email. “If the family is concerned about the nutrition of the baby, they should contact the pediatrician.”

Very difficult to find

For Gustafson and her husband, the recall of Elecare meant a switch to Neocate products, but it was also very difficult to find.

The couple sought help from friends and family in Arizona and outside the state. Initially, the problem was finding one can here in Walgreens and another couple in a store near a friend in Phoenix.

“We were trying to find the formula everywhere,” Gustafson said of those first weeks. “I got two cans thanks to a friend and a phone call, but they were very limited and very difficult to find.”

Gustafson eventually found some online and immediately bought what she could do. This corresponds to a few cases. This is only 4 cans per case, and one can lasts about 3 days.

She said price cuts had begun, and she even charged $ 40 or even $ 70 per can. She said there are websites that charge more than $ 200 for four cans.

“Everyone is stressed,” she said of an online parenting site she joined to help Amelia’s health problems.

President Joe Biden met with manufacturers and retailers last week to find ways to increase supply. Abbott said this week that production could resume in the coming weeks and the formula could be returned to the shelves within two months.

“I’ve never seen anything like that”

Some WIC recipients have been unable to use the card in the formula for several months. Instead, you may buy powdered milk for cash or use food stamps.

Food stamps, as historically known, are part of the state’s SNAP program and stand for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. By the end of April, many families had received additional SNAP funding. This helped with the purchase of the prescription, but its allocation ended after the state’s COVID-19 emergency service ended in March.

Tasha Peterson, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Economic Security, said households receiving the largest SNAP benefits to household size receive an additional $ 95 per month.

Some families provide milk to their babies, but Nicholas says it’s not recommended before the baby is one year old. Others are introducing solid foods faster than they have.

If people want to buy online, get it from a retailer, not a third-party seller who may be offering an expired product.

As of March, 2,300 babies were enrolled in the County Health Department’s WIC program, of which about 1,500 were fully fed with infant formula, a deputy for community outreach, prevention and education in Pima County. Department Manager Jennifer Chankei said.

Approximately 500 are breast-fed and infant formula is also given, while 300 babies are completely breast-fed. Marana Health Care also runs the WIC program, as does El Rio Health. ElRioHealth currently has a monthly WIC case load of approximately 4,200-4,600 participants, including infants fed powdered milk, as well as pregnant, postpartum, lactating participants, and children. Up to 5 years old.

“We have never seen anything like this,” Nicholas said. “It’s very stressful.”

Reporter Patty Machelor (806-7754) or pmachelor@tucson.com

Formula shortages hard on Tucson families with infants | Local news Source link Formula shortages hard on Tucson families with infants | Local news

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