WIC Lowers Preterm Birth and Infant Death Rate, Study Says

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that babies born to WIC participants are 33% less likely to die in the first year of life.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a public health nutrition program designed and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. It provides nutrition education, nutritious foods, breastfeeding support, health screenings, and health care and social service referrals for low-income pregnant and post-partum women, infants, and children up to age five who are considered to be at “nutritional risk.” (Fathers may also bring their children to apply for WIC.)

Low-income is defined in this case as having an income at or below 185% of the US Poverty Income Guidelines. Or, the applicant needs to be enrolled in TANF, SNAP, or Medicaid.

To qualify as “nutritional risk,” the applicant is screened by health professionals for medically-based risks, such as anemia, underweight, smoking, maternal age, history of pregnancy outcomes, or poor pregnancy outcomes; and diet-based risks.

The infant mortality rate in the United States is nearly twice as high as rates in other developed countries.

“It is imperative that we elevate and strengthen proven and effective interventions that help babies and young children thrive. WIC is the gold standard in that effort,” Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO of the National WIC Association, said following the publication of the latest study.

Numerous studies show that WIC also helps:

Reduce premature births
Reduce low and very low birth-weight babies
Reduce the incidence of low-iron anemia
Increase access to prenatal care earlier in pregnancy
Increase pregnant women’s consumption of key nutrients, such as iron, protein, calcium, and vitamins A and C
Increase immunization rates
Improve diet quality
Increase access to regular health care

If you’re interested in learning more about WIC or applying for assistance, call your nearest NORWESCAP WIC Center. We maintain offices in Hunterdon, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties. They’re open during standard business hours, as well as evenings.