Sites like eBay and Craigslist are listing formula for exorbitant prices. A recent search by MIT Technology Review found multiple sellers asking for over $300 for 12 containers of baby food on eBay, coming out to about $25 each. Normally, these containers would sell for $7 to $10.
Moore says parents who are on welfare are especially stressed. They receive their checks at the beginning of the month and have to scramble to beat other desperate parents—if they can—to get the specific brands of formula allowed by welfare rules, which are produced by Abbott, Gerber, and Mead Johnson.
Despite the FDA agreement, the crisis may worsen over the next few months, as supply-chain issues persist and the FDA continues monitoring production to keep formula safe. That could create another knock-on health crisis among babies forced to wean off formula too early, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies and hospitalization.
One crucial way to help combat the shortage might lie in getting women to donate excess breast milk, according to Lindsay Groff, executive director of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. She says the formula shortage has led to a 20% surge in demand at milk banks across the US—but there isn’t enough milk to go round. She’s hopeful that parents might spread the word online, urging their followers to donate breast milk if they can.