It feels like one crisis on top of another (on top of another) these days. A shortage of baby formula has been impacting U.S. parents of young children for the past few months, and it’s only getting worse. New CivicScience survey data reveal (n=4,130) that over a quarter of the U.S. adult population have been personally impacted by the baby formula shortage – or know someone who has.

How are parents and caregivers handling it?

More than a quarter self-report they have switched brands or plan to do so, and even more have stocked up, have tried to stock up unsuccessfully, or plan to try soon. With the majority of retailers limiting these purchases in some way, this may continue to prove difficult. Thirteen percent of respondents impacted by the shortage have purchased formula via a peer-to-peer marketplace, which experts warn against.

Among just the subset of the population directly impacted by the shortage, the majority of those surveyed feed their young children formula exclusively, making the issue even more frightening. However it’s worth noting that a third say they exclusively feed their children breastmilk now, so perhaps many have gone that route as a result of the crisis, be it their own or from a milk bank.

Low-income families are being hit the hardest. CivicScience data show those in lower income households are the most likely to have a direct experience with this issue, and probably the most unlikely to have additional resources (and time) to track down in-stock products by going to multiple stores, traveling across state lines, or refreshing product pages, especially with the rising cost of gasoline.

When it rains, it pours. In this sense, meaning inflation and shortages, brewing a perfect storm of inequalities for families. With the FDA reportedly working around the clock to address the issue, CivicScience will continue to monitor how this issue is impacting consumers.