The Impact of WIC on Birth Outcomes: New Evidence from South Carolina
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Objectives To investigate the impact of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) on a variety of infant health outcomes using recent South Carolina Vital Statistics data (2004–2012). Methods To account for non-random WIC participation, the study relies on a maternal fixed effects estimation, due to the availability of unique maternally linked data. Results The results indicate that WIC participation is associated with an increase in birth weight and length of gestation, decrease in the probability of low birth weight, prematurity, and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit admission. Additionally, addressing gestational bias and accounting for the length of gestation, WIC participation is associated with a decrease in the probability of delivering a low weight infant and a small for gestational age infant among black mothers. Conclusions for Practice Accounting for non-random program participation, the study documents a large improvement in birth outcomes among infants of WIC participating mothers. Even in the context of somewhat restrictive gestation-adjusted specification, the positive impact of WIC remains within the subsample of black mothers.
KeywordsInfant health Birth weight WIC participation Supplemental nutrition
I am grateful to Division of Biostatistics at South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control for providing data for this study.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.
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