Health Services: Benefits of WIC
The results of studies conducted by Food Nutrition Services (FNS) and other non-government entities have shown that the WIC program is one of the nation's most successful and cost-effective nutrition intervention programs.
WIC participants receive nutritious foods, nutrition education and information about health and social services. Since its beginning in 1974, the WIC program has earned the reputation of being one of the most successful federally-funded nutrition programs in the United States.
WIC saves lives
and improves the health of nutritionally at-risk
women, infants and children.
Research shows that WIC plays an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs. Missoula families who enroll in WIC demonstrate:
- More full-term pregnancies
- Fewer premature births
- Lower incidence of moderately low and very low birth weight infants
- A greater likelihood of receiving early prenatal care
- Savings in health care costs from $2.77 to over $4.00 for each dollar spent on WIC
Studies have found WIC to have a positive effect on children's diet and nutrition:
- Higher intakes of iron, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, calcium, folic acid and protein by all family members.
- More effective than other cash income or food stamps at improving preschoolers' intake of key nutrients.
- Decline in the rate of iron deficiency anemia from 7.8% to 2.9% over a ten year period.
- Fewer meals consumed away from the home.
- Greater understanding and practice of health and nutrition practices.
WIC promotes breastfeeding as the optimal method of infant feeding. Studies show:
- Over 70% of all mothers enrolled in Missoula's WIC program chose to breastfeed their babies.
- For those infants who are fed infant formula, 90% received iron-fortified formula, which is recommended for nearly all non-breastfed infants for the first year of life.
A regular schedule of immunizations is prescribed for children from birth to 2 years of age, which coincides with the period in which many low-income children participate in WIC.
Improved cognitive development
Cognitive development influences school achievement and behavior. Participation in the WIC Program has been shown to:
- Improve vocabulary scores for children of mothers who participated in WIC parentally.
- Significantly improve memory for numbers of children enrolled in WIC after the first year of life.
Preconception nutritional status is an important determinant of birth outcome. A previous pregnancy can cause nutritional depletion of the postpartum women, particularly those with high parity and short inter-pregnancy intervals.
- Women enrolled in WIC during pregnancy and postpartum periods delivered infants with higher birth weights in a subsequent pregnancy.
- The women who received postpartum services had higher hemoglobin levels and lower risk of maternal obesity at the onset of the subsequent pregnancy.
WIC participation has been shown to:
- Increase the likelihood of children having a regular provider of medical care.
- Improve growth rates.
- Happier and more confident parents.
Note: Information and Statistics were taken from the FNS website and Missoula County records.
- National WIC Association
- USDA WIC Website - are you eligible for WIC benefits?
- State of Montana WIC Website
- USDA Food & Nutrition Website
- Medicaid Program
- Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF)
- Food & Drug Administration - protecting and promoting your health
- American Dietetic Association - food and nutrition information
- March of Dimes - working together for stronger, healthier babies
- I am Your Child - parenting resources
- La Leche League - breastfeeding information
- Partnership Health Center - affordable health care for everyone
- WIC Works Resource System - online training for WIC employees