Race, ethnicity, WIC participation, and infant health disparities in the United States

Ann Epidemiol. 2021 Jun:58:22-28. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2021.02.005. Epub 2021 Feb 21.


Purpose: This study examines the association between race and ethnicity, participation in The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and a series of infant health outcomes including infant mortality, low birth weight, preterm birth, extended infant hospitalization, and stays in the neonatal infant care unit (NICU).

Methods: Data are from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS), 2009-2017. Moderation analyses were conducted to assess the association between maternal race and ethnicity, WIC participation, and infant health.

Results: Results indicate infants born to Black women and to a lesser extent Hispanic woman are in worse health than those born to White mothers in the United States. However, participation in WIC is associated with reductions in the gap in infant health experienced by racial and ethnic minorities.

Conclusions: Prenatal WIC participation is associated with improvements in the health of Black and Hispanic infants and reduced racial and ethnic disparities in infant health outcomes.

Keywords: Health; Infant health; Race; Racial disparities; WIC.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Health
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth*
  • United States / epidemiology