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.
“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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