DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Parents across the state are desperately trying to find formula, some even turning to milk banks. Meanwhile, steps are being taken to give people who rely on Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program benefits more formula options. 

On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Health announced a move to help families who rely on WIC benefits qualify for more formulas. 

“In my almost 40 years as a nurse and baby nurse, I have never seen this before and I’m really saddened that in the United States, we are struggling to feed our babies,” said OhioHealth Mother’s Milk Bank Outreach Coordinator Chris Smith.

A formula shortage has gripped families across the country. To help ease the burden, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services allow for greater flexibility in order to expand access to infant formula. Additionally, the Ohio’s WIC program applied for USDA waivers to extend more baby formula options to parents relying on WIC benefits.

“We’re doing this out of an abundance of caution, again we are not a state contracted with Abbott, the company with a production issue, we are contracted with Mead Johnson,” said ODH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.

For mothers considering switching to pasteurized donor human milk, there’s only one Human Milk Banking Association of North America bank that serves the state of Ohio. OhioHealth Mother’s Milk Bank said they’re seeing an increase in calls of mothers wanting to donate their own breast milk to help families in need and also caring for babies in NICUs. However, some families can’t afford the costs.

“There’s not a shortage of donor milk, it’s getting the costs of processing covered, a lot of private insurances will not cover it,” said Smith.

If funds are available, and a medical need is present, pasteurized donor milk may be available, at cost, through OhioHealth Mother’s Milk Bank. However, in order to receive donor milk, they must have a prescription from their pediatrician and fill out some paperwork.  For parents who are concerned about the formula shortage, their first call should be to their pediatrician for advice on what to do.

For mothers in Dayton who may want to donate breast milk, Ohio Health has two drop off locations here: one at Dayton Children’s and First Steps Kettering. Before you donate, you must be a verified donor.