Megan V. Smith of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine and the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., Anna Kruse of the Yale School of Public Health, Alison Weir and Joanne Goldblum of the National Diaper Bank Network surveyed 877 pregnant and parenting women.
Thirty percent reported diaper need, with Hispanic women significantly more likely to report diaper need over African-American women.
Many low-income families rely on government support for food, housing and employment assistance, but diapers are not an allowable expense for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- food stamps -- or Women, Infants and Children programs.
"Inadequate diaper supply can affect parents' ability to attend work programs and training since one of the requirements of child care attendance is that parents provide an adequate supply of diapers," the study said. "It also impacts children's health as it increases the risk of severe diaper rash and urinary tract infections since parents report making diaper changes less frequently to conserve their supply."
The study authors concluded an adequate supply of diapers might reduce parenting stress and increase the sense of parenting competence, leading to overall improved child health.
Healthcare professionals and researchers should be aware of not only food and housing struggles for low-income families, but also recognize diapers as a basic need as well, the researchers added.
The findings were published online ahead of the August print edition of the journal Pediatrics.