Association of the COVID-19 Pandemic With Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Receipt Among Pregnant Individuals: United States, 2016-2022

Am J Public Health. 2023 Dec;113(S3):S240-S247. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2023.307525.


Objectives. To evaluate the effect of COVID-19 on Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) receipt among pregnant individuals overall and by race/ethnicity. Methods. We measured changes in WIC receipt among Medicaid-covered births (n = 10 484 697) from the US National Center for Health Statistics Natality Files (2016-2022). Our interrupted time series logistic model included a continuous monthly variable, a binary post-COVID variable, and a continuous slope shift variable. We additionally fit separate models for each race/ethnicity relative to White individuals, using interaction terms between the time series variables and race/ethnicity. Results. We found decreases in WIC receipt (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.899; P < .001) from before COVID (66.6%) to after COVID (57.9%). There were larger post-COVID decreases for American Indian/Alaska Native (AOR = 0.850; P < .001), Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (AOR = 0.877; P = .003), Black (AOR = 0.974; P < .001), and Hispanic (AOR = 0.972, P < .001) individuals relative to White individuals. Conclusions. The greater reductions in WIC receipt among minoritized individuals highlights a pathway through which the pandemic may have widened gaps in already disparate maternal and infant health. Public Health Implications. Continued efforts to increase WIC utilization are needed overall and among minoritized populations. (Am J Public Health. 2023;113(S3):S240-S247.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Hawaii
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Pandemics*
  • Pregnancy
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White