The shortage is a calamity—not a victory for breastfeeding.
The baby was just two weeks old, and hungry. Elizabeth Hanson tried to breastfeed, but didn’t have enough milk. With terror, she watched as her daughter lost weight, tiny bones protruding from her skin.
In America, in modern times, most parents can count on multiple safe, healthy options for feeding an infant: breast milk or formula. That is, unless they are experiencing the impacts of the current formula shortage, as thousands of families across the United States are.
But in 1724, Elizabeth Hanson couldn’t turn to formula when her milk dried up. Her story illustrates the nightmarish realities that confronted families before the development of modern commercial formula in the mid-20th century.