April 5-11 is National Public Health Week!
This past year has shown us how important public health is to all of us. WIC plays a critical role in public health by supporting, nourishing, and uplifting our community’s parents and young children to set our nation’s families up with better health and healthy habits for life.
WIC’s Impact on Public Health
The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected women and families with young children. PHFE WIC saw a 24% increase in WIC program participation between February 2020 and January 2021. This translates to tens of thousands of infants and young children connected to no-cost healthy foods and more community resources each month.
WIC participants have healthier birth outcomes. The nutrition education, healthy foods, referrals, and support from WIC during pregnancy has a direct and well-documented impact on pregnant parents and babies.
Babies of WIC participants have higher average birth weights, lower incidence of low and very low birth weight, lower rates of prematurity, and lower rates of infant mortality.
Birthing parents who participated in WIC during pregnancy have lower rates of preeclampsia, and lower rates of excessive gestational weight gain.
Children who participate in WIC are more likely to be up-to-date on their immunizations, are more likely to have access to health care and medical home, have lower rates of anemia, show improved cognitive development and academic achievement, and exhibit lower rates of obesity.
WIC helps parents reach their breastfeeding goals. Breastfeeding rates of WIC participants have increased by 43% since 2002.
Nutrition education from WIC positively affects eating habits. The National WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study-2 showed that 70% of WIC caregivers reported that they changed their feeding practices because of something that they learned at WIC. Parents who participated in the study also reported that the nutrition education, information and advice they received from WIC is as important to them as the food.
WIC is a wise investment. A 2019 study by Niangono, et al. showed that every $1 spent on WIC during pregnancy resulted in mean savings of $2.48 ($1.24-$6.83).