Obstetrics/GynecologyORIGINAL ARTICLE

Association Between WIC Enrollment and Exclusive Breastfeeding at 3 Months Postpartum Among Low-Income Mothers

John Francescon, OMS III; Zelalem T. Haile, PhD, MPH; David Kling, OMS III; and Ilana Chertok, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Accepted: May 11, 2016

Published: December 1, 2016

J Osteopath Med; 116(12): 770-779

Context: Existing literature suggests participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in the prenatal and postnatal periods is associated with lower rates of breastfeeding among WIC-eligible mothers. However, minimal research has been published on the association between WIC enrollment and exclusive breastfeeding.

Objectives: To examine the association between WIC exposure and exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months postpartum.

Methods: We conducted a secondary data analysis using information on 784 low-income women who participated in the longitudinal population-based Infant Feeding Practices Study II between May 2005 and June 2007. The main outcome of interest was exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months postpartum. Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate OR and 95% CI for exclusive breastfeeding relative to WIC enrollment status, controlling for the confounding effects of other maternal characteristics. We further conducted a subgroup analysis among those participating in WIC prenatally to examine the association between receipt of information about infant feeding from WIC and exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months postpartum.

Results: The crude prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months postpartum was 18.1% of women enrolled in WIC and 41.1% of WIC-eligible nonparticipants (P<.0001). After adjusting for sociodemographic, behavioral, and anthropometric factors, the odds of exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months were lower for women enrolled in WIC (OR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.37-0.88) when compared with women not enrolled in WIC. In the subgroup analysis, receipt of information from WIC about feeding infants during the prenatal period was not significantly associated with exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months (OR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.39-1.89).

Conclusions: Women who were enrolled in WIC and who received information about feeding infants were less likely to exclusively breastfeed than women not in WIC. Continued improvement and adjustment to the existing WIC breastfeeding program could potentially improve these rates. Additional studies that examine the quality of WIC services provided, especially those pertaining to breastfeeding programs, are warranted.

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