Baby formula shortage leaves local parents scrambling

CONCORD, N.C. — Hungry babies and weary mothers are the latest to feel the impact of supply chain gridlock.

Hanna Nall said she has been in search of baby formula for her 1-year-old daughter, Evie.

The Concord Target where she normally shops was out of her daughter’s brand. She then went to Walmart.

“It said the same thing -- ‘Low inventory,’” Nall said.

Parents told Channel 9 the problem is not with all brands, but some specialty items that are usually available have run thin.

The solution isn’t a simple fix. Switching formulas can cause digestive problems for an infant.

“They don’t eat if they don’t have formula,” Nall said.

Nall turned to the family pediatrician for samples to feed Evie until more food could be shipped to their door.

She still goes to the store when in need, but the results are often mixed.

“Every time I go in I feel a little nervous,” Nall said.

Dr. Margaret Quinlan is a UNC Charlotte professor who studies mothers and media and has coauthored a book on the subject. She said the problem will only get worse in the coming weeks and months as suppliers remain strained.

The result is more than just an upset child.

“Having those supply issues is also triggering postpartum depression in new mothers,” Quinlan said.

As mother of two herself, Quinlan said she has gone online to help mothers share where to find the formula brand they need.

Quinlan said this is an emergency preparedness issue. She said baby food suppliers and government agencies usually work together to make sure supply remains up.

“Our country is failing us if they are not seeing this as something that needs to be a priority,” Quinlan said.

Channel 9 reached out to Gerber, Nestle and Similac with questions about the extreme lengths parents are going to in the search for the specialty formula they produce and if they were prepared for a shortage. They did not respond by the time of this report.

(WATCH BELOW: Economists warn global supply chain problems will worsen)