The impact of prenatal WIC participation on infant mortality and racial disparities

Am J Public Health. 2010 Apr 1;100 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S204-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.168922. Epub 2010 Feb 10.


Objectives: We assessed the value of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) services as a public health intervention seeking to improve birth outcomes and reduce racial disparities.

Methods: We compared the infant mortality rate (IMR) per 1000 live births and percentage of preterm births overall and by race for prenatal WIC versus non-WIC participants in Hamilton County, Ohio, from 2005 to 2008.

Results: The IMR was lower for WIC participants than for non-WIC participants (8.0 vs 10.6; P = .04). For African Americans, the IMR of WIC participants was much lower than that of non-WIC participants (9.6 vs 21.0; P < .001). For Whites, IMR and preterm birth rates were not improved by WIC participation; however, there was a higher rate of maternal smoking among Whites. The racial disparity in IMR was dramatically reduced in WIC participants (9.6 for African Americans vs 6.7 for Whites; P = .14) as compared with non-WIC participants (21.0 for African Americans vs 7.8 for Whites; P < .001).

Conclusions: Prenatal WIC participation is associated with significant improvements in African American IMR. WIC participation reduces racial disparities in IMR between African Americans and Whites.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Racial Groups
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Social Welfare / statistics & numerical data
  • White People*
  • Young Adult