Food insecurity and lack of stable housing are factors known to increase maternal stress. But a study in the August 2013 issue of Pediatrics, “Diaper Need and Its Impact on Child Health
,” (published online July 29) points to another stressor – an inadequate supply of diapers
The study, conducted by researchers at Yale University and the National Diaper Bank Network, surveyed 877 pregnant and parenting women. Thirty percent reported diaper need, with Hispanic women significantly more likely to report diaper need over African-American women. Many low-income families rely on government support for food, housing and employment assistance. However, diapers are not an allowable expense for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs.
Inadequate diaper supply can affect parents’ ability to attend work programs and training since one of the requirements of child care
attendance is that parents provide an adequate supply of diapers. It also impacts children’s health as it increases the risk of severe diaper rash
and urinary tract infections
since parents report making diaper changes less frequently to conserve their supply.
The authors conclude that an adequate supply of diapers may reduce parenting stress and increase the sense of parenting competence, leading to overall improved child health. Health care professionals and researchers should be aware of not only food and housing struggles for low-income families, but also recognize diapers as a basic need as well.