TUESDAY, Sept. 6, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) seems to be associated with improved birth outcomes and lower infant mortality, according to a review published online Sept. 6 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Maya Venkataramani, M.D., M.P.H., from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues examined whether WIC participation was associated with improved maternal, neonatal-birth, and infant-child health outcomes in a systematic review. Twenty observational studies were included.

The researchers observed moderate strength of evidence (SOE) that maternal WIC participation during pregnancy is associated with reduced risk for preterm birth, low birthweight infants, and infant mortality. In addition, there was low SOE that maternal WIC participation may be linked to reduced likelihood of inadequate gestational weight gain, and with increased well-child visits and childhood immunizations. Low SOE also indicated that child WIC participation may be associated with increased childhood immunizations. Low SOE was found for differences in some outcomes by race and ethnicity; insufficient evidence was found for differences by duration of WIC enrollment. Insufficient evidence was found in relation to maternal morbidity and mortality outcomes.

“Overall, this review highlights the need for higher-quality evidence on the association of maternal and child WIC participation with maternal, infant, and child health outcomes,” the authors write.

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