The Baby Formula Shortage Reveals Our Terrible Attitude Toward Science

It’s killing us.

Jessica Wildfire
5 min readMay 19, 2022


Photo by Hollie Santos on Unsplash

It’s here.

SARS. Avian flu. Monkeypox. Fascism. Shortages. Climate disasters. I guess we thought it would never get this bad.

Some of us are still out there pretending everything’s okay. They’re even minimizing the baby formula shortage, completely ignoring how common it was for infants to starve before its invention. True, children died all the time before the scientific miracles of the 20th century. Child mortality hovered somewhere between 20 and 30 percent during the middle ages. It stayed near 15 percent all the way through the Victorian era.

Parents used to treat their children with a cold indifference that would stun most of us. They barely spoke to them. They almost never hugged or kissed them. Kids started working at the age of four, often in dangerous jobs. So when older generations mock and ridicule “experts” and “scientists,” it strikes me as spoiled and entitled. They grew up and raised kids right as these miracle inventions were hitting the markets.

They think they know what it was like.

They don’t.

As Carla Cevasco writes in The Atlantic, baby formula is a true miracle that society has taken for granted, even disparaged recently as breast feeding has become the latest cultural expectation placed on women by people who think it’s “free” and “simpler” than formula. Before now you either breastfed, or you fell back on a limited number of options. Not only could your baby starve before their first birthday, they might die from spoiled or contaminated ingredients in breast milk alternatives. (That’s happening now, but only because of corporate negligence.) Even in the U.S. at the turn of the century, about 13 percent of babies died their first year. There’s more than 3 million babies born every year in America.

Imagine 13 percent dying.

It would be horrific.

We’ve forgotten what life used to be like.

We’re spoiled.

It’s true that science doesn’t have all the answers, and it’s true that breastfeeding really is the best option for your baby, if you can do it. As…