Local health official worries newborns could be at risk during government shutdown


Fallout from the partial government shutdown could soon hurt new moms’ budgets if a federal program some rely on runs out of funding at the end of next month. 

But Janet Hill, the chief operating officer of the Rock Island Health Department, also fears it could directly harm their children.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is a provides supplemental nutrition to new moms and their babies, but it only has enough cash to get it through next month. 

About 1,100 WIC moms stop by the Rock Island County Health Department each month for nutrition classes and to pick up government coupons that help pay the grocery bill.

New mom Jacqueline Gray has been a part of the program since before her 6-month old son was born. 

“We depend on it a lot for his formula,” said Gray, who would otherwise be paying an extra $80 per week to buy her son’s formula. “I don’t have to worry every month or every week about like, ‘OK, am I going to be able to like afford his formula?'” 

Hill said formula can be one of the most expensive items on a new mom’s grocery list so she’s worried some moms might try to stretch their formula in antipication of program cuts.

“That can be fatal and fatal pretty quickly,” Hill said. “It’s very, very dangerous.” 

The extra water depletes the sodium in babies’ bodies, making them very sick. Hill said no matter what, follow the guidelines on the formula. 

Gray said she’d find a way to get her son’s formula no matter what, but she hopes the program doesn’t completely disappear.

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