Reporting Sean Lee
DETROIT (WWJ) – It’s a huge problem low-income parents face, and many people aren’t even aware of it.
WWJ Health Reporter Sean Lee has been taking a look at some new research on the hidden costs of not having the basics to care for a baby.
Yale researchers studied the physical and mental impact on low-income families when there isn’t enough money for diapers — which aren’t covered by assistance programs like WIC (Women, Infants, and Children).
Three in 10 poor mothers report they cannot afford an adequate supply of diapers, the study found.
Marybeth Levine, who runs the Detroit Area Diaper Bank, says stretching a limited diaper supply can lead to serious problems for parents and babies.
She says low-income families without transportation are often forced to pay higher prices for the basics — including diapers.
“One thing we talk about a lot is a lot of times people say they have one diaper a day for their baby, because they have to make that pack stretch,” she said. “So, if they’re having to buy them at extremely high retail prices, diapers can be astronomically expensive.”
Diaper rash is an obvious consequence, but Levine says the added stress on parents can even increase the risk for child abuse.
“We’re trying to focus on ways to reduce incidences of child abuse and take away the factors,” said Levine. “Well, one of these factors is: Does a family have what they need to care for the child? And if they don’t have an adequate supply of clean diapers then it’s, you know, one of the ingredients that can cause it, unfortunately.”
Levine says the need in Metro Detroit is so great, that the bank can hand out as many as 40,000 diapers in a month and still not meet demand.