The Mississippi Department of Health announced on Thursday that the state’s Women, Infants and Children’s Nutrition Program (WIC) is adding new baby formulas to its approved product list to improve access amid the national formula shortage.
Before the shortage, only four types of formula could be purchased with WIC benefits in Mississippi unless an infant received an exemption through a medical diagnosis. The department made eight new products available on June 1 and have now added six more. These additional options will be WIC-eligible at least through the end of August.
The new options added on Thursday are all alternative Enfamil products, including new formulations and product sizes. A list of new approved formulas can be found here.
Mississippi has the second-lowest rate of breastfeeding in the nation, and the formula shortage has left some parents struggling to feed their children.
There were 84,000 women, children and infants who participated in WIC in Mississippi in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Supply-chain issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic are one cause of the formula shortage. The shortage was heavily exacerbated by the recall of three major baby formula brands manufactured by Abbott Nutrition after a probe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found bacterial contamination at one Abbott facility in Sturgis, Mich. At least four babies were hospitalized and two died after consuming contaminated formula, the Food and Drug Administration said.
The Sturgis facility, which is estimated to produce one-fifth of the U.S. baby formula supply, shut down in February due to the contamination. It reopened on June 4, but was shut back down again just nine days later due to flooding. The plant resumed operations again on July 1, but has not resumed production of Similac, its most popular formula brand.
The Biden administration has attempted to bolster U.S. formula supplies through efforts like Operation Fly Formula, which used the Defense Department to fly in formula from other countries. Despite these efforts by the government and others by manufacturers to boost production, stores are still struggling to stock their shelves.