Diarrheal illness among women, infants, and children (WIC) program participants in Miami, Florida: implications for nutrition education

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2009 Nov-Dec;41(6):420-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2008.11.008.


Objective: To assess risk factors for diarrheal illness among clients of a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinic in Miami, FL.

Design: A cross-sectional survey with questions about demographics, food safety practices, and diarrheal illness.

Setting: WIC clinic operated by the Miami-Dade County Health Department in Florida. WIC is a national program for nutritionally at-risk, low-income young children and pregnant or postpartum women.

Participants: WIC female clients at least 18 years of age who are able to read and speak English (n = 299).

Main outcome measure: Diarrheal illness, defined as having at least 3 loose stools for 2 or more consecutive days during the previous 30 days.

Analysis: Univariate and multiple logistic regression analyses.

Results: Food safety behaviors significantly associated with diarrheal illness included not washing hands before preparing meals (P = .048) and baby bottles (P = .045) or after changing diapers (P = .009) and not washing all items that touched raw meat before preparing the next food item (P = .023). In general, pregnant women reported less frequent hand washing and had a lower food safety score than nonpregnant women (P = .002).

Conclusions and implications: These findings suggest that interventions to improve food handling practices such as proper hand washing are needed for WIC clients, particularly pregnant women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child Nutrition Sciences / education
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology*
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Handling / standards
  • Hand Disinfection* / methods
  • Hand Disinfection* / standards
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Pregnancy
  • Public Assistance*
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult