A worrying recent story from the Record-Journal concerns diapers. Diapers seem about as basic as it can get when it comes to human needs, and an inability to access a sufficient supply of them might seem an obscure complication. Yet, according to the National Diaper Bank Network, an estimated one in every two American families can’t afford enough diapers to meet their children’s needs.
The R-J’s health equity reporter, Cris Villalonga-Vivoni, recently explored the disturbing issue of what’s called diaper insecurity, noting that it has both health and financial implications impacting babies and families. “When you’re worried about providing for your child or children under your care, that also lends itself to families suffering from maternal depression, in terms of stress-induced depression,” said Dr. Selina Osei, director of health equity and community engagement at the Connecticut Hospital Association. “We see a lot of postpartum depression and reasons why caregivers are going through that; some of it is diaper insecurity.”
More troubling statistics help illustrate the financial pressures, as in 46% of families in a diaper insecurity situation reporting the need to trim other spending, including for food and utilities, to meet the need for diapers. Parents report missing work or school because they don’t have enough diapers to accommodate their children’s daycare needs. “If you think about diapers being a basic need for children, then (parents) are making the hard decision to forgo some food items, sometimes not paying rent, so that they can buy diapers for their children,” said Osei.
There ought to be more that can be done, and a relatively new effort in the state involves a partnership between the hospital association and the Diaper Bank of Connecticut. Called Diaper Connections, the program is available at 27 Connecticut hospitals and gives participating families up to 100 free diapers a month for each child. The program is set up to allow hospitals to work with community programs. The program is nearing its one-year mark, and there is an effort to measure how it’s been going and how it can be improved. Osei said Diaper Connections is a supplement to the efforts of community organizations, which “have been meeting this need forever.”
The work of the Diaper Bank of Connecticut, at www.thediaperbank.org, is obviously worth supporting. So is the work of Diaper Connections. This is a fundamental need, after all, and the health of infants and their families deserves the effort.