Babies have special nutritional needs, and many parents across Kentucky rely on baby formula to meet these needs. The baby formula shortage has caused significant stress for Kentucky’s newest parent, especially parents whose babies rely on specialty formulas. 

To address this crisis, state and federal lawmakers have taken several steps to help increase the supply of formula: 

  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has begun to import baby formula from other countries into the US. This imported formula has been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be safe and nutritionally adequate for babies, but imported formula may need to be prepared differently than formula made in the US. Families using imported formula can find tips and conversions here
  • The Abbott plant, which resumed production a couple of weeks ago, has once again stopped production of new formula after flooding. The FDA will be working closely with the manufacturer to reopen the plant as quickly as possible and ensure all formula produced is both safe and nutritionally adequate. 
  • Governor Beshear has declared a state of emergency on the infant formula crisis. This activates the states price gouging law, which protects families seeking to purchase formula from the predatory pricing that can occur when supplies are limited due to high demand. Families can report price gouging here

While the state and federal government work to get the supply of infant formula back up, there are several resources available to help Kentucky families navigate this crisis:

  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) families having trouble finding approved formula can call their local WIC clinic to update their food package. A list of approved formula substitutes that WIC will now cover can be found here. Additionally, WIC may be able to help families locate formula. 
  • WIC families can now return all recalled formula purchased with WIC benefits to the store they purchased it from.
  • If you can afford it, buy formula online. Only purchase formula online from well-recognized distributors, grocers, and pharmacies.
  • Your local Community Action Council may be able to provide you with formula or connect you with agencies who have formula in stock. You can find your local Council here.  
  • Families who need specialty metabolic formulas should contact their pediatrician’s office about safe, comparable specialty formulas. Additionally, Abbott is releasing limited quantities of Similac PM 60/40 and other metabolic or amino acid formulas, and your pediatrician or OB/GYN’s office can fill out a request to, if approved, have this speciality formula shipped to your home. 

As families work through the shortage, they should keep in mind the following:   

  • For most infants, it is okay to switch to a new formula as long as it is the same type of formula. It may take your baby a couple of feedings to adjust to the new formula. A list of similar formulas by type can be found here, but you should consult your pediatrician before switching formulas. 
  • Don’t try to make formula at home. There are serious health and safety concerns with homemade formula. Your baby’s nutritional needs are very specific, especially in the first year of life. Homemade formula may contain too little or too much of certain vitamins and minerals, like iron. Homemade formula also increases the risk of contamination, which could make your baby sick or lead to infection.
  • Don’t water down formula. Adding more water can take nutrients away from your baby and lead to serious health problems, like seizures.
  • Don’t use formula past the “best by” or “use by” date. The formula may not be safe and may have lost some of its nutrients. 

The baby formula shortage has been a significant stressor for Kentucky’s newest parents, but these resources help ensure families can safely provide their babies with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.  

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