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Diapers and breast milk demand spikes 200% during pandemic


Hanna Mordoh

Jul 23, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Babies in need of diapers and breastmilk have spiked in Indiana during the pandemic. Both the Indiana Diaper Bank and Milk Bank said they have seen more than a 200% increase in demand during the health crisis. However, a silver lining is that donations are up for both groups too.

“Diaper need has always been there despite the pandemic and if anything, the pandemic has amplified that need,” said Jenica Giffin, the senior program manager for the Indiana Diaper Bank.

Giffin said the average cost per month for diapers is around $80 and the prices are increasing. There is no government assistance when it comes to getting diapers, so many parents are forced to rely on donations.
Currently, the Indiana Diaper Bank gives away about 40,000 diapers a month to families in need and has a two-month supply on hand. The group has been distributing 200% more diapers through local nonprofits and partners since the pandemic started.

“We have seen a huge uptick in need and it hasn’t slowed down and I really don’t see it slowing down, especially with things opening back up,” said Giffin.

The Milk Bank is another group seeing an increase in both donations and need.

“They just brought milk in droves, which matters because our demand increased 215% and our medical relief fund increased more than 300%,” said Freedom Colb, the executive director of the Milk Bank.

The Milk Bank is a living tissue bank dedicated to combatting infant mortality. The process is similar to giving blood but instead relies on lactating mothers to donate milk.

“We say every ounce count because every ounce provides up to three feedings for a critically ill infant,” said Colb. “About 10% of infants are born prematurely. So, you are talking preemies and micro-preemies.”
The group uses donations from lactating mothers from across Indiana and has a special process that pasteurizes human breast milk for the smallest patients.

“Really, it is the difference between survival. In some situations we can increase survival rates by 77% for infants that require human milk as a medical intervention and need that living tissue to survive,” said Colb.
It’s even more important now, as studies show COVID-19 antibodies can be passed through breast milk to babies who are especially vulnerable.

“Thankfully, research really came out quickly that it was not only safe but could add a protective factor for infants,” said Colb.

Both the Milk Bank and Indiana Diaper Bank said they’re not sure why the pandemic caused an increase in donations, however, they hope people continue to open their hearts and give, as the world reopens.
Anyone interested in donating breast milk can start the process here.

Visit our "Give Diapers" page to see where you can drop off diaper donations.

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