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Nevada County addresses formula shortage

The nationwide baby formula shortage is a “multi-faceted” issue and one the Nevada County Public Health department is trying to remedy.

“We are working really hard with our (California Department of Public Health), WIC and public health partners to communicate messaging around the shortage and where our local supplies exist,” said Debra Wilson, a registered dietitian with a master’s in public health, and an international board certified lactation consultant.

Wilson, speaking at a Wednesday meeting hosted by the county, said the formula shortage was caused by several factors. The company Abbott — which manufactures such brands as Similac and EleCare — closed one of its major plants, and there have been numerous recalls of formula related to the presence of Cronobacter, a bacteria that has led to infections in some infants.

“With that closure came a greater demand on many other formulas and therefore we saw a shortage starting to occur with lack of local suppliers, (and) lack of individual components to make those formulas,” she added. “The shortage has continued and is peaking at this time.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s website, Cronobacter can cause severe, life-threatening infections or meningitis. The site reports that infections of this type are rare but are especially high risk for newborn infants.

“We have staff monitoring our vendors and grocery stores,” said Wilson, who also is a senior nutritionist and coordinator locally for the Women, Infants, and Children program. ”We are collaborating and communicating those messages — do not over-dilute formula, make sure you are not making homemade formula, work with your health care provider and WIC and food bank if you are running critically low.

In Nevada County, families who are affected by the shortage are encouraged to visit myfamily.wic.ca.gov for updated information.

“We are hoping to make sure we maintain adequate formula in Nevada County,” Wilson said.

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com



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