We believe that no one institution can or should be the only source of research about the basic needs of individuals, children, and families.

The National Diaper Bank Network and the Alliance for Period Supplies seek to serve as a resource for researchers and advocates. The following section includes landmark studies about the significant importance and impact of basic necessities. These core studies are followed by our library of scholarly journal articles, reports, and other publications that examine how poverty and the lack of material basic necessities can affect people’s social, health, and economic outcomes.

Our goal is to encourage researchers to expand on studies that quantify the impact of diaper need and period poverty on individuals, families, and communities throughout the U.S.

Research released by the National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) in June 2023 reports that nearly half (47%) of U.S. families with young children struggle to afford diapers. The NDBN Diaper Check 2023: Diaper Insecurity among U.S. Children and Families, a nationally  representative study commissioned by the National Diaper Bank Network, shows a significant increase (14 percentage points) in diaper need, since the first study conducted on diaper need in 2010. Multiple research studies have shown that one in three families (about 33%) cannot afford enough diapers to keep their children clean, dry, and healthy.

In 2013, Pediatrics published the first peer-reviewed study to quantify diaper need, propose a method to measure diaper need, and explore psychosocial variables associated with diaper need in a large sample of urban, low-wage families. Almost 30% of mothers reported diaper need. Hispanic women were significantly more likely to report diaper need than African American women and women 45 years of age or older were significantly more likely than women between the ages of 20 and 44 years to report diaper need. Women who reported mental health need were significantly more likely than women who did not report mental health need to report diaper need.

With nearly half the infants and toddlers in the US living in low-wage families—who may struggle to access material basic necessities—federal, state and municipal support is essential to augment nonprofit efforts to combat diaper need. While diaper distribution programs successfully helped nearly 280,000 children during the time period (2016), collectively, the NDBN diaper distribution programs reached just 4% of the 7 million young children living in families at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.

The Diaper Bank of Connecticut report confirms that babies’ overall health improves when families living in poverty receive diapers and that, without diapers, parents miss work much more frequently. In addition, the report’s findings include: A majority of families receiving diapers (51%) have jobs; More than 60% of families receiving diapers earn less than $20,000 per year; Providing diapers to families helps eliminate $4.3 million in medical costs; and Providing diapers, today, increases state tax revenues.

The study examined the frequency of “period poverty,” or not being able to afford sanitary products, among university students, and associations with poor mental health. 14.2% of women had experienced period poverty in the past-year; an additional 10% experienced it every month. Among women who reported experiencing period poverty every month, 68.1% reported symptoms consistent with moderate or severe depression, compared to 43.4% of those who had not experienced period poverty.

Research and Studies

This section features journal articles, reports and publications that examine how poverty and the lack of basic necessities affect people’s social, health and economic outcomes. NDBN encourages researchers to expand on studies that demonstrate the impact of diaper need and period poverty on individuals, families, and communities in the U.S.

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The NDBN Diaper Check 2023: Diaper Insecurity among U.S. Children and Families

Addressing diaper need as racial stratification through intersectional family justice

Annual Survey of Member Diaper Banks, 2022

Annual Survey of Member Diaper Banks, 2021

Annual Survey of Member Diaper Banks, 2019

Annual Survey of NDBN Members, 2018

Associations Between Diaper Need and Child Sleep in Under-resourced Families, Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 2022

Diaper Need During the COVID-19 Pandemic Associated with Poverty, Food Insecurity, and Chronic Illness, Health Equity, 2022

Diaper Need and Its Impact on Child Health, Pediatrics, 2013

Diaper Need and Its Impact on U.S. Families, 2017

Diaper Need in the US and Canada, 2010

Diaper Need: A Change for Better Health, Pediatric Nursing, 2015

Emergency Response: A Systemic Approach to Diaper Rash, Chest Pain, and Medicaid in ED, Kentucky Law Journal, 2014

First Focus – Children’s Budget Book, 2018

Help a Mother Out’s Diaper Programs: Evaluation Brief

Helping the Community from the Bottom Up: Distributing Diapers to the Williamsburg Community, 2014

NDBN Annual Report, 2017

NDBN Annual Report, 2018

NDBN Annual Report, 2020

NDBN Annual Report, 2021

NDBN Annual Report, 2022

The Social and Economic Impacts of the Diaper Bank of Connecticut, 2018

Basic Needs: Ensuring that Every Family Has the Things Needed to Reach Their Full Potential, white paper, 2015