May 28, 2022 - Health

Baby formula shortage disproportionately hit Black and Hispanic parents

A person unloading a pallet of baby formula from an airplane in Dulles, Virginia, on May 25.

A pallet of baby formula is unloaded in Dulles, Va., on May 25. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The ongoing baby formula shortage in the U.S. is highlighting historic economic and racial disparities around breastfeeding, according to AP.

Why it matters: Black and Hispanic mothers rely on and may struggle to find formula more often than white women, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC estimates that 20% of Black women and 23% of Hispanic women exclusively breastfeed through six months, compared to 29% of white women, according to AP.

  • The CDC also estimates that breastfeeding centers are less prevalent in Black neighborhoods.
  • Low-income families, in general, buy the majority of formula in the U.S. Experts fear that small neighborhood grocery stores, which vulnerable populations rely on for formula, may be less likely to replenish their stock as quickly as larger retail stores with more buying power.

The big picture: Food and Drug Administration commissioner Robert Califf told Congress this week that the baby formula shortage likely won't subside until July.

Go deeper: Baby formula shortage highlights how America feeds its young

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