Prenatal WIC and Birth Outcomes: The Role of Pregnancy Intention and Timing of Participation

Alison Jacknowitz, American University
Tracy Salmons, American University
Laura Tiehen, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides nutritious food, nutrition counseling, and referrals to health and other social services to low-income women, infants, and children to counteract the negative effects of poverty on health. A substantial body of research finds that women who participated in WIC during their pregnancy have better birth outcomes than low-income women who did not. However, there has been some recent debate over the effectiveness of WIC. Two important methodological issues arise out of this debate—whether selection bias or gestational age bias are influencing outcomes. This research contributes to the debate on the effectiveness of WIC by examining the effect of prenatal WIC participation on investments in prenatal care and birth outcomes, with a focus on controlling for selection bias and gestational age bias, using a large nationally-representative data set, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B).

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Presented in Poster Session 1