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Ventura County Public Health Shares Guidance to Navigate the U.S.’ Infant Formula Shortage


Downloads: Article – English | Spanish

Ventura, CA – There continues to be a shortage of infant formula nationwide due to supply chain issues and a recall of infant formula due to bacterial contamination in the Abbott manufacturing plant in Michigan. The federal government is currently working on strategies to increase production of formula and help families access existing stock.

Compared to other states California is faring better, but the shortages are still of concern.

Babies need the right balance of nutrients- not too much or too little of anything-to grow and be healthy. It is important for your baby’s health to use products that meet federal standards to ensure the formula is safe and free of harmful bacteria. During this challenging time, Ventura County Public Health encourages parents and families to:

  • If you are currently breastfeeding, continue if possible. We recognize this option may not be viable for everyone. If someone is partially breastfeeding, they may consider reaching out to a lactation care provider (in-person or by telehealth) to help ensure that they maintain or increase their milk supply by breastfeeding more frequently. The Breastfeeding Coalition of Ventura County website has helpful information and links to find support at Existing WIC clients should call the local WIC office for breastfeeding support at 805-981-5251.
  • Talk to your child’s doctor about substituting formula brands. For most babies, if their regular brand of formula is not currently available, it is OK to substitute with a similar version. Also consult your child’s pediatrician if your baby requires a specialized formula, (therapeutic or metabolic formula for an infant with a medical condition requiring different caloric or nutrient content), before making any substitution. Your pediatrician may recommend a milk bank referral. If you have questions about which formula is acceptable, please contact your child’s pediatrician or your local Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Woman, Infants and Children (WIC) Center 805-981-5251 or 1-800-781-4449 x 3.
  • Please avoid making your own formula at home, watering down formula to make it last longer, using expired formula, using cow, goat, or plant-based milk for formula, or giving toddler formula to infants. Doing so can reduce the amount of nutrients a baby receives and can lead to potential serious health complications. If no other options are available to feed your baby, children over six months may be eligible for whole, pasteurized, cow’s milk, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This is not ideal and should not be done for more than one week. Talk to your pediatrician if you need to give your baby cow’s milk for a week to see if this option is appropriate for your child.
  • If you need support to cover the cost of providing your child with food, please apply to the WIC program WIC is a health and nutrition program for families. It helps families by providing nutrition education, breastfeeding support, healthy foods, and referrals to healthcare and other community services. About half of all births in California are in low-income families who qualify for the WIC program, and income-eligible clients can receive a WIC card and use it to purchase a limited amount of formula at participating retail stores. Existing WIC clients should use their benefits for formula earlier in the month in case they run into shortages near the end of their benefit period. Learn more by calling the local WIC office at 805-981-5251.

Health officials will continue to monitor the shortage and provide updates as new information is available. That California Department of Public Health continues to provide updates and resources at the following links English and Spanish.