What happens when mom can’t afford diapers?

What happens when mom can’t afford diapers?

A study, published in the August edition of the journal Pediatrics, finds that nearly one in three families can’t afford enough diapers for their children.

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine and the Yale School of Public Health in partnership with the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) found that 30 percent of the 877 pregnant and parenting women surveyed don’t have the money for all the diapers they need.

Hispanic women were almost twice as likely to report diaper need as black women. Eight percent of the women surveyed reported “stretching” their diapers to make their supply last – meaning they aren’t changing diapers as often as they should.

That can lead to severe diaper rash and severe skin infections, according to Dr. Deborah Ehrlich, an Advocate Medical Group pediatrician.

While obviously bad for baby, this also is bad for mom, the study authors say. The researchers found 30 percent of the mothers reported feeling stressed or depressed over diapers.

“We know that maternal stress and depression contributes to child development,” Joanne Goldblum, who works for the NDBN, said in a statement. “Parents can’t spend the time, for example, talking to their child, reading to their child, playing with their child, when they are focused on getting their needs met. And they’re stressed. So we know there is an immediate connection between stress and child outcomes.”

The average weekly cost of diapers is $18, according to the NDBN. That’s $936 a year, or more than 4 percent of annual household income for families at poverty level. For a single mom making minimum wage, that’s more than 6 percent of her yearly salary.

Researchers stressed that health care providers should be aware of not only food and housing struggles for low-income families, but also recognize diapers as a basic need as well.

Dr. Ehrlich thinks that’s good advice.

“As health care providers, we need to look at the big picture, and make sure that every child has what he or she needs to get a healthy start in life,” she says.

For information on finding a diaper bank near you, click here.

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  1. Voice of reason August 2, 2013 at 11:06 am · Reply

    I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but if you can’t afford diapers maybe you SHOULDN’T BE HAVING CHILDREN!

  2. First education, then housing, transportation, then food deserts and now diapers? When does it end. The gravy train of hand outs and discounts continue.

  3. Clothe diapers may be an alternative and they are better for the environment.

  4. Or you know, they could use cloth diapers and wash them. Like people did before disposable diapers were available.

  5. I agree with comments above, but would like to add the following: if it is already happened and child was born, please use your own resources, such as water, detergent, clean basin (if you do not have the washer/drier) and you will have the clean cloth dipper any time when you need it-same way as parents from the old countries were doing. The old soft linens are a very good source to be cut for dippers. Good luck

  6. I agree, we need to start promoting the use of cloth diapers, much cheaper that disposable and better for the environment. They also make great rags after you are done with them. I use them for all three of my children and none of them ever had a diaper rash.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.