WASHINGTON - Parents of infants across the U.S. are taking to social media pleading for media coverage and political action while posting pictures of empty store shelves, as the country's baby formula shortage continues to get worse.
Last week, Abbott Nutrition issued a voluntary recall of powdered baby formula products, including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare due to possible Cronobacter contamination. Cronobacter is a bacteria that can cause severe blood infections, meningitis or fatal intestinal disease in infants.
No cases of Cronobacter infection connected to the recalled formula have been detected in Washington.
The Abbott recall had a nationwide impact, leading to big retailers like Walmart, Target and CVS limiting the number of formula purchases as a result of the shortage.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) warns at least 18,000 Washington families who receive baby formula through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program might be affected by the recall.
Officials say they are working to provide alternatives for families, and urge families to call stores ahead of time to make sure they have other products safe for their children.
If breastfeeding isn't an option for families, parents are encouraged to reach out to their pediatrician to see if they have formula.
If your pediatric office is out of baby formula, food banks and other family-focused agencies likely will have formula.
These are a few organizations in Puget Sound that carry formula:
- The Food Bank of St. Mary's (611 20th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98144) – walk-in offers Baby Corner Program: Eligible customers must live within Seattle city limits and should have children under 2 years old. Customers must bring documentation of current Seattle address (photo ID or utility bill), and a birth certificate and/or medical coupon for the child. For children 0-6 months, families will receive a package of diapers, a package of formula, and a package of wipes. Contact them at (206) 338-7215.
- West Seattle Food Bank: The Baby & Child Corner, 2419 S.W. Morgan St., Seattle, 206-932-9023
- White Center Food Bank (10829 8th Ave SW Seattle, WA 98146) – offers Baby Pantry diapers, formula, baby foods and more.
- Baby Basics of Bellevue: First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, 1717 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue, 425-454-3084, Ext 3205
- Next Step Pregnancy Services: 19526 64th Ave., Lynnwood, 425-329-4569
- You can also contact the Help Me Grow Washington Hotline at 1-800-322-2588. They can connect you to various food and health resources across the state.
- People are also creating Facebook groups to help parents find formula and to provide real-time updates of what shelves look like at local stores. You can see the updates at Find My Formula.
Experts remind parents and caretakers not to water down formula or try to make your own-- it can make your baby sick.
FOX 13 is continuing to compile a list of resources and locations you can reach out to.
FOX Business contributed to this story.