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Comparing Weight-for-Length Status of Young Children in Two Infant Feeding Programs


Objectives A cross-sectional study comparing weight-for-length status of children 6–24 months old who participated in Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) or Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Methods Secondary analysis of NFP (n = 44,980) and WIC (n = 31,294) national datasets was conducted to evaluate infant and toddler growth trajectories. Weight-for-length status was calculated at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months based on World Health Organization criteria. Demographics and breastfeeding rates were also evaluated. Binary logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios for high weight-for-length (≥97.7 percentile) at each time point. Results At 6 months, approximately 10 % of WIC and NFP children were classified as high weight-for-length. High weight-for-length rates increased for both groups similarly until 24 months. At 24 months, NFP children had significantly lower rates of excess weight (P = 0.03) than WIC children, 15.5 and 17.5 % respectively. At all time points, non-Hispanic white children had lower rates of high–weight for length than Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children. NFP infants were also found to have higher rates of ever being breastfed than WIC infants (P < 0.0001). Conclusions for Practice Infant and toddler populations served by NFP or WIC were found to be at increased risk for high weight-for-length. This study found NFP participation was associated with a small, but significant, protective impact on weight-for-length status at 24 months. Continued efforts need to be made in addressing weight-related racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities during early childhood.

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The authors would like to thank David Olds, PhD, from Nurse-Family Partnership as well as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children for providing access to the data used in this project.

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Correspondence to Bonnie Gance-Cleveland.

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Aldrich, H., Gance-Cleveland, B. Comparing Weight-for-Length Status of Young Children in Two Infant Feeding Programs. Matern Child Health J 20, 2518–2526 (2016).

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  • Nurse-Family Partnership
  • Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children
  • High weight-for-length