KAPOLEI, Hawaii, Aug. 3, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Amid the ongoing infant formula shortage, families are experiencing additional stress as they struggle to find nutritious options for their babies. 'Ohana Health Plan is performing outreach to its members with infants who may be impacted and encourages families to exercise caution with alternative feeding options and is providing resources to help families identify healthy and safe feeding options.
Around the country, supply chain issues have affected the availability of infant formula for children ages 0-12 months, and while efforts have been made by the federal government to increase availability, many parents across Hawaii continue to struggle to find formula – particularly those in rural and underserved areas. Infant formula is critical to the health and development of newborns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 in 4 parents exclusively breastfeed their children up to the age of 6 months, leaving the overwhelming majority of parents and caregivers at least partially dependent on formula.
"At 'Ohana Health Plan, we understand how critical infant formula is to a newborn's health and development, as it has the right balance of nutrients needed for growth," said Scott Sivik, Plan President and CEO. "That's why the increased cost and scarce availability of infant formula is distressing for families, especially those living in rural and underserved communities in Hawaii.
If impacted by infant formula shortages, 'Ohana Health Plan is encouraging families to follow the following guidelines and to seek out community resources for additional support, as needed:
- DO talk with your pediatrician and ask if they have supplies of formula. Your local WIC office may also be able to suggest places to look.
- DO check smaller stores and local community pharmacies, which may not be out of supply when the bigger stores are.
- DO try new formulas. Many babies can switch brands of formula, including generic store brands, unless your infant is on a specific extensively hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula. Ask your pediatrician about recommended specialty formula alternatives available for your infant.
- DO NOT make a homemade formula or use imported formulas. This is not safe for your infant, as there are specific nutritional needs for an infant. The FDA reviews and makes sure that all infant formula sold in U.S. stores meets very strict rules about their ingredients to ensure it supports healthy growth and development.
- DO NOT switch to cow's milk or other milk substitutes from the dairy section of the grocery store, such as almond or soy beverages (sometimes labeled as milk). This is true for babies 0 – 12 months of age.
- DO NOT water down formulas or use toddler formulas for infants younger than 12 months old. This includes adding more water when mixing powdered formula or adding extra water to ready-to-serve, non-concentrated liquid formula. Both practices affect the nutrition your infant is getting.
- DO NOT purchase expired or damaged cans. Check expiration dates.
For families impacted by infant formula shortages, 'Ohana Health Plan members can call toll-free for supply assistance at 1-888-846-4262, TTY 711, Monday – Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or visit the free community resource database at www.GoAskAunty.OhanaHealthPlan.com.
About 'Ohana Health Plan
'Ohana Health Plan provides government-sponsored managed care services to families—from keiki to kupuna—and individuals with complex medical needs primarily through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage (Wellcare), and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Wellcare) across the state. 'Ohana Health Plan is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a leading multi-national healthcare enterprise committed to helping people live healthier lives. For more information, please visit www.ohanahealthplan.com.
SOURCE 'Ohana Health Plan