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Substantial Prevalence of Diaper Need in Low-Income Families

Diaper need more likely for Hispanics, older mothers, women who report mental health need

MONDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- About 30 percent of mothers report diaper need, with increased likelihood for Hispanic women, those aged 45 years and older, and women with mental health need, according to a study published online July 29 in Pediatrics.

Megan V. Smith, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues surveyed 877 pregnant and parenting women on topics related to mental health, basic needs, and health care use. The relationship between diaper needs and psychosocial correlates was assessed.

The researchers found that diaper need was reported by almost 30 percent of mothers. The need was significantly more likely for Hispanic women than African-American women (odds ratio, 1.96) and for women aged 45 years or older versus those aged 20 to 44 years (odds ratio, 2.53). Compared with women who did not report mental health need, women who reported mental health need were significantly more likely to report diaper need (odds ratio, 1.89).

"The results from this study provide evidence of the substantial prevalence of diaper need in low-income families," the authors write. "This study calls attention to the fact that an insufficient supply of diapers is not only a risk factor for poor infant and child health but also for maternal mental health, potentially diminishing maternal sense of competence and increasing maternal stress, which ultimately leads to potential negative impacts on child health and development."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to diaper manufacturers.

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