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The cost and affordability of growing and feeding a baby in Nova Scotia

Abstract

Objective

This paper examines the affordability of a basic nutritious diet for low-income families in Nova Scotia over three developmental periods (pregnancy, perinatal, early infancy) using economic simulations that include food costing and secondary data.

Methods

The cost of a nutritious food basket was determined from a random sample of grocery stores in Nova Scotia (n = 21), along with the cost of infant formula (n = 29) and prenatal vitamins and vitamin D drops (n = 15), from randomly selected pharmacies. The monthly funds remaining to purchase a basic nutritious diet were calculated for several household scenarios, after deducting essential living expenses from net incomes. Each scenario included either a pregnant woman or a breastfed or formula-fed infant at 3 months, and either Income Assistance, Federal Maternity Benefits based on minimum wage employment, or a $15/h wage.

Results

Income Assistance and Federal Maternity Benefits, based on minimum wage, were inadequate to purchase a basic nutritious diet during pregnancy or in early infancy whether breastfeeding or formula feeding. All household scenarios faced significant potential monthly deficits if they were to purchase a basic nutritious diet.

Conclusion

Minimum wage and income security programs are inadequate for the purchase of a basic nutritious diet throughout the prenatal, perinatal, and early infancy periods in Nova Scotia, emphasizing risk of food insecurity as a critical issue for young families facing income constraints. Adequate maternity protection is required to support access to food and nutrition essential for maternal and infant health.

Résumé

Objectif

Cet article examine l’abordabilité d’un régime alimentaire nutritif de base pour les familles à faible revenue en Nouvelle-Écosse au cours de trois périodes de développement (la grossesse, périnatale, petite enfance) utilisant des simulations économiques qui comprennent des données secondaires et le calcul des coûts des aliments.

Méthodes

Le coût d’un panier à provisions nutritif a été déterminé à partir d’un échantillon aléatoire des magasins d’alimentations en Nouvelle-Écosse (n=21), ainsi que le coût des préparations pour nourrissons (n=29), et les vitamines prénatales et les gouttes de vitamine D (n=15), à partir des pharmacies sélectionnées au hasard. Les moyens mensuels qui restent pour acheter un régime alimentaire nutritif de base ont été calculés pour plusieurs scénarios concernant les ménages, après déduction des frais de subsistance de base des revenus nets. Chaque scénario comprenait une femme enceinte, ou un nourrisson allaité ou nourri au lait maternisé à trois mois, et l’aide au revenue, les prestations de maternité fédérales basé sur l’emploi au salaire minimum, ou un salaire de 15 $ l’heure.

Résultats

L’aide au revenu et les prestations de maternité fédérales basées sur l’emploi au salaire minimum étaient insuffisantes pour l’achat d’un régime alimentaire nutritif de base pendant la grossesse ou la petite enfance, qu’ils soient allaités ou nourris au lait maternisé. Tous les scénarios concernant les ménages ont rencontré les déficits mensuels potentiels importants s’ils devaient acheter un régime alimentaire nutritif de base.

Conclusion

Le salaire minimum et les programmes de sécurité du revenu sont insuffisants pour l’achat d’un régime alimentaire nutritif de base tout au long des périodes prénatales, périnatales et de la petite enfance en Nouvelle-Écosse, soulignant le risqué de l’insécurité alimentaire comme un enjeu crucial pour les jeunes familles qui sont aux prises avec des contraintes de revenu. La protection appropriée de la maternité est nécessaire pour faciliter l’accès à la nourriture et la nutrition essentielles pour la santé maternelle et infantile.

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Acknowledgements

This research would not have been possible without the participation of grocery and convenience stores in Nova Scotia, and we are grateful to those that participated. We would also like to thank the members of the Nova Scotia Consumer Food Environment and Participatory Food Costing Research Advisory Committees for their support and advice and to the many staff, students, and partners who have supported various aspects of this research. Special thanks to Kathleen Chan for her work in the construction of the affordability scenarios and to Dr. Ilya Blum for his support with sampling and statistical analysis.

Funding

We would like to acknowledge that this project was commissioned and funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, and we are grateful for their leadership and financial support to enable this work. We applied the FLAE approach for the sequence of authors.

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Correspondence to Lesley Frank.

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Appendix

Appendix

Appendix A Cost of the National Nutritious Food Basket (NNFB) for relevant age and sex groups in Nova Scotia in 2015
Appendix B Median cost of infant formula in Nova Scotia 2015 by age based on PEN infant formula amount to prepare calculations

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Frank, L., Waddington, M., Sim, M. et al. The cost and affordability of growing and feeding a baby in Nova Scotia. Can J Public Health 111, 531–542 (2020). https://doi.org/10.17269/s41997-020-00306-5

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Keywords

  • Maternal and infant health
  • Infant food insecurity
  • Social welfare policy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Formula feeding
  • Food costing

Mots-clés

  • La santé maternelle et infantile
  • Insécurité alimentaire des nourrissons
  • Politique de protection sociale
  • Allaitement maternel
  • Lait maternisé
  • Calcul des coûts des aliments