Aug 01 2013
Politics of Parenting: Diaper Availability Found to Be Better Predictor of Maternal Mental Health Than Food
Single mothers who form one of the poorest demographics in the nation often suffer depression linked to poverty. But rather than obvious factors like food insecurity, it is, surprisingly, access to diapers for their babies that was one of best indicators of maternal mental health.
In a new study by the Yale School of Medicine, researchers interviewed hundreds of mothers in New Haven, Connecticut, to reach their conclusions.
It turns out that the government’s welfare reform policies have much to do with why not being able to afford diapers leads to depression – today very few Americans on welfare actually get cash benefits to spend on things like diapers. Instead they get food stamps, which cannot be used toward diapers.
Mothers who cannot afford the more than $100 per month that diapers cost, often stretch the use of each diaper, leading to a dip in self-esteem, and increased anxiety over the care they are able to offer their babies.
Additionally, paid work is often even more out of reach for mothers who are have a hard time providing enough diapers for babies enrolled in childcare.
GUEST: Joanne Goldblum, Founder and Executive Director of the National Diaper Bank Network, and a co-author of the study with Yale’s Dr. Megan Smith
Visit www.diaperbanknetwork.org for more information.