High Cost of Diapers Leads to Stresses for Moms: Study

Paying for diapers can be a struggle for low-income families and a new study by Yale and the Connecticut-based National Diaper Bank Network has found that some moms have been so cash-strapped at times that they have not been able to afford diapers.

Others said they have tried to make diapers last longer by reusing them at times.

“Some were taking off their kids’ diapers and scraping off the contents and then putting them back on the child,” Megan Smith, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine  told NBC News. “While that has an incredible impact on the health of the child in terms of urinary tract infections and rashes, it also impacts the self-esteem of the mom.”

Smith is the main author of the study, “Diaper Need and Its Impact on Child Health,’ which has been published in the journal “Pediatrics.

Of the women interviewed, 30 percent said they'd experienced a time when they could not afford to buy diapers and 8 percent said they've tried to make diapers last longer by reusing them at times.

Mothers who cannot afford diapers are more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to an article Yale News posted online about the research.

Smith told Yale that the stresses can affect a child’s development.

“High levels of stress and depression in a parent can be associated with low achievement in school and mental health problems that can follow a child for a lifetime,” Smith told Yale News. 

The need is so big, Yury Maciel-Andrews of the Diaper Bank, said that they received calls every day.

“It's really heartbreaking," she said. "Agencies come and pick them up and we deliver to them and then they give to the families."

The diaper bank distributes not only diapers, but also formula and diaper bags.

"So when the community organizations come to pick up diapers, they can choose the items and they give them to these families," Maciel-Andrews said.

The Yale and Diaper Bank study recommends that pediatricians ask parents about their need for diapers and refer families to a local diaper distribution service to reduce parenting stress.

Mary-Kathryn Petrone works at local hospital and donates bags of diapers to the bank every month.

"Anything that we can do to help," Mary-Kathryn Petrone said.

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