Missouri among 6 states where more than half of infant formula sold

Across the country, parents are trying to feed their young, but some are limited by the shortage of formula.

ST. LOUIS — Empty shelves and empty bellies.

Across the country, parents are trying to feed their young, but some are limited by the shortage of formula.

To make matters worse, Missouri is one of six states where more than half of infant formula supplies have run out, with metro St. Louis not far behind.

This worries many parents, including Metro East mom Brandy Lavite.

She lives in Bethalto, but she looks both ways across the river.

She depends on formula milk for Elayna, 7 months, because she cannot produce while breastfeeding.

“I haven’t tried with her because every time you try to breastfeed and you don’t succeed, it’s a huge blow to your mental and emotional health. Being already postpartum, I decided this time: I’m not going to let myself go down this path and break my heart again,” Lavite said.

Over the past few months, it has become increasingly difficult to find her daughter’s type of formula.

It was really this week when there were no more options.

“I started looking at Walmart. It was out,” Lavite said. “I looked for other stores within 50 miles, and it said no. I checked Amazon, and nothing.”

She relied on her friends for advice.

Instead, they got in the car and went looking for her.

A friend went to four places before she could finally get formula.

Another friend drove to Alton and found a large 54 ounce bag at a Walgreens.

Lavite said she was grateful to the research team.

“I’m just like, ‘How did I get so lucky to have an awesome group of people,'” Lavite said.

But Brandy is also worried about her other friends, including those who depend on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, also known as the WIC program.

Parents in the WIC program are eligible with a certain income.

Dina Payeur is a nutritionist with the St. Louis County Department of Health.

“It’s for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, those postpartum, infants and children under five,” Payeur said.

Since Friday, the state has given parents some flexibility.

“We are able to provide other formulas that are not on our contractual formula to facilitate the tracing of people,” she said.

While this releases some pressure, Brandy said she hopes that feeling of anxiety will ease soon as well.

“I kinda hope it’s like the toilet paper shortage where you just get what you need and hope the best is waiting,” Lavite said.

She doesn’t want to change formula for her baby because she’s worried it will upset her stomach, but if it gets worse, Lavite said she’ll have to.

She also wants to make sure her baby can digest breast milk if he goes to a milk bank.

There are several breast milk banks in the St. Louis area.

SSM Health Cardinal Glennon has a depot only milk depot.

It was the first hospital in St. Louis to begin implementing the use of pasteurized donor milk and the first milk depot in St. Louis.

Last year, in 2021, 14,000 ounces were donated by over 35 different moms.

This was higher than previous years. This year, they are on track to do at least as much, if not more.

Melissa Liebhart is a lactation consultant at Cardinal Glennon, and she said they work with the Milk Bank in Indiana.

All donated milk goes to premature or fragile babies in the NICU.

It’s pasteurized donor milk and families can get milk from it. If you are interested, you can click or tap here. You will need a prescription for donor milk.

If you would like to donate, there is a process and Cardinal Glennon is organizing a milk drive.

Qualifying St. Louis County residents can receive e-benefits for free nutritional formulas and counseling through the St. Louis County DPH WIC program.

If you are wondering if you qualify, you can call 314-615-7900 to schedule an appointment.

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