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Gov. Polis declares disaster emergency over formula shortage, encourages Coloradans to consider milk donations

(Cropped: John Crowley / CC BY-SA 2.0)
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 7:45 AM MDT
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DENVER (KKTV) - Gov. Jared Polis has declared a disaster emergency in Colorado over the continuing infant formula crisis.

His office says that by doing so, it will enable the state to make emergency funds immediately available to support the free distribution of donor human milk across Colorado.

The nation’s largest baby formula plant was shut down in February due to the discovery of a rare and dangerous bacteria in parts of the facility. The closure and ensuing recall triggered a supply shortage that only began to rear its head within the last few weeks. Families nationwide have struggled with the depleted resources, and Colorado has been no exception. The head of the Food and Drug Administration was interrogated by a bipartisan panel of lawmakers Wednesday over why the FDA took so long to act after hearing reports a full four months before the plant was shuttered of bacterial infections in infants who had consumed formula from the facility.

The shortage could last another six to eight weeks, Polis’ office said.

“While the federal government is working to address the nationwide infant formula shortage, the state must also act to protect the health and safety of children in Colorado. Infant formula is a crucial source, and in some cases the only source, of nutrition and sustenance for countless infants. The nationwide infant formula shortage is a disaster that threatens the lives of children throughout our state. It is incomprehensible that babies’ health is threatened by the formula shortage, and the state must ensure that donor human milk, which can be used in place of formula in many instances, is as accessible as possible for all families in need. Additionally, no one should take advantage of parents or caregivers who are trying to feed infants during this formula shortage. During a declared disaster, price gouging for consumer goods is unlawful and the attorney general and district attorneys have the power to enforce against illegal price gouging,” the governor’s executive order states.

Polis and Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera have announced a partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank through Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation to help address the ongoing formula shortage. Donating breast milk is one way to help families, and people may not realize it is an option.

“Colorado and MMB are calling for donations of human milk or financial donations that would help families with the cost of supply, and bringing awareness to an alternative infant feeding supply during the current crisis,” the governor’s office said.

According to Rocky Mountain Children’s Health, women who would like become breast milk donors just need to meet the following qualifications:

- Be confident in her milk supply and produce milk in excess of her own baby’s needs

- Be willing to donate a minimum total of 150 ounces throughout her time as a donor with us

- Not have any medical condition that prohibits her from giving blood

- Not be taking vitamin supplements that exceed 2000 percent recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

- Take only approved medications and herbal supplements/teas. Mothers’ Milk Tea, fenugreek and any lactation support product containing fenugreek or other herbs is not compatible with donating.

- Not have any medical condition that prohibits her from giving blood (there are exceptions to this rule – please contact RMCH if this applies to you).

- Consume less than 450 milligrams of caffeine per day (two to three cups of coffee)

- Wait six hours after drinking any alcoholic beverage to breastfeed for collecting milk to donate

- Be motivated to practice exceptional hygiene and carry out careful milk collection and storage methods

- Be willing to undergo blood testing

- Be less than 18 months postpartum when collecting the milk

For more information on donating or receiving milk, visit milkbankcolorado.org.

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