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New WIC Food Options Improve Maternal, Birth Outcomes

Improvements in high-risk moms and babies seen with modest improvements in nutritional content

pregnant woman eating salad

WEDNESDAY, July 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Revisions to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package are associated with beneficial impacts on maternal and birth outcomes, according to a study published online July 1 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Rita Hamad, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues investigated whether the revised WIC food package (which includes more whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and low-fat milk) improved perinatal and birth outcomes among WIC recipients. The analysis was based on linked birth certificate and California hospital discharge data from January 2007 to December 2012 (2,897,537 infants born to 2,441,658 mothers).

The researchers found that the revised WIC food package was associated with reductions in maternal preeclampsia and more-than-recommended gestational weight gain. The revised package also increased the likelihood of as-recommended and less-than-recommended gestational weight gain as well as longer gestational age. Additionally, the revised WIC food package was associated with an increased likelihood of birth weight that was appropriate for gestational age. The revised food package may have improved distributions of birth weight, as evidenced by reductions in birth weight, which were accompanied by reductions in the number of infants born small for gestational age and large for gestational age as well as low-birth-weight infants.

"This suggests that WIC policy may be an important lever to reduce health disparities among high-risk women and children at a critical juncture in the life course," the authors write.

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