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Illinois officials announce hotline for baby formula questions amid nationwide shortage

As families with babies who need formula scramble from store to store without much luck, there’s an Illinois helpline for those looking to get the needed nutrients that are in short supply around the country.

The Illinois Department of Human Services is taking calls at 1-800-843-6154. The phone number is meant for families on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Women, Infants and Children Program, but is open to all residents.

“We have a special obligation to WIC families. About one-half of babies born in Illinois participate in WIC in the first year of their lives” IDHS Secretary Grace Hou said. “We will continue to do everything possible to safeguard their development and access to safe, nutritious formula.”

State officials are urging retailers to set aside formula for low-income families that get subsidies.

“We want to remind families during this time to avoid attempting to make ‘homemade’ formula, or to hoard supplies of formula from stores,” IDPH Acting Director Dr. Amaal Tokars said.

One major factor driving the shortage is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recalling products in February from a manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan, run by Abbott Laboratories. There’s an agreement to ramp up production, but that could take weeks.

A news release from the state Tuesday said the Illinois contracts with Mead Johnson, the Chicago-based manufacture of “Enfamil,” to exclusively supply standard infant formula for the WIC program.

“Mead Johnson has ramped up production of its two most used products by over 10% in March and April and 60% in May as compared to pre-recall,” a news release from the state said.

More information can be found at DHS.Illinois.gov/BabyFormula.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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