JOURNAL ARTICLE

Association of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children With Preterm Birth and Infant Mortality

Samir Soneji, Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez
JAMA Network Open 2019 December 2, 2 (12): e1916722
31800070

Importance: Nearly 4 in 10 expectant mothers in the United States received Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits during pregnancy between 2011 and 2017. Despite public support for the program, empirical evidence of the success of the program varies substantially.

Objective: To assess the association of WIC program participation during pregnancy by low-income expectant mothers covered by Medicaid with infant mortality by gestational age at birth and by maternal race/ethnicity in comparison with their counterparts who did not receive WIC benefits.

Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study obtained data from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2017, from US live birth certificates. Data were from 11 148 261 expectant mothers who delivered live births in states that have implemented the 2003 revision of the US live birth certificate and whose insurance coverage and receipt of WIC benefits were recorded on the birth certificates. Data analysis was performed from June 2019 to October 2019.

Exposures: Receipt of WIC benefits during pregnancy.

Main Outcomes and Measures: The first outcome was gestational age at birth: extremely preterm (<28 weeks), very preterm (28-32 weeks), moderate-to-late preterm (32-37 weeks), and normal term (≥37 weeks) births. The second outcome was death within the first year of life.

Results: Among the 11 148 261 expectant mothers who delivered live births between 2011 and 2017 and were covered by Medicaid during pregnancy, the modal age at delivery was 20 to 24 years, the predominant race/ethnicity was non-Hispanic white (4 257 790 [38.2%]), and 8 145 770 (73.1%) received WIC benefits during pregnancy. The proportion of expectant mothers covered by Medicaid who also received WIC benefits decreased from 2011 to 2017 (79.3% to 67.9%; P < .001). The odds of preterm birth compared with normal term birth were lower among expectant mothers covered by Medicaid who received WIC benefits during pregnancy compared with their counterparts who did not receive WIC benefits during pregnancy (adjusted proportional odds ratio, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.86-0.87). The odds of mortality within 1 year of birth were lower for infants whose mothers were covered by Medicaid and received WIC benefits during pregnancy compared with those who did not receive WIC benefits during pregnancy (adjusted odds ratio, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.83-0.86).

Conclusions and Relevance: This study found that receipt of WIC benefits among expectant mothers with Medicaid coverage was associated with lower risk of preterm birth and infant mortality.

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