Prenatal WIC is Associated with Increased Birthweight of Infants Born in the United States with Immigrant Mothers

Background: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) improves health outcomes for participating mothers and children. Recent immigration policy changes increased chilling effects on WIC access and utilization. Associations between WIC participation and neonatal outcomes among infants born to immigrant parent(s)—23% of all births in the United States (US)—are understudied.

Objective:To examine relationships between prenatal participation in WIC and birthweight among infants of income-eligible immigrant mothers.

Design: The study design was repeat cross-sectional in-person surveys.

Participants/Setting: 9,083 immigrant mothers of publicly or uninsured US-born children <48 months accessing emergency departments or primary care in Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Little Rock, AR; Minneapolis, MN; and Philadelphia, PA were interviewed 2007-2017.

Main Outcome Measures: Outcomes were mean birthweight (g) and low birthweight (LBW) (<2,500g).

Statistical Analyses: Multivariable linear regression assessed associations between prenatal WIC participation and mean birthweight; multivariable logistic regression examined association between prenatal WIC participation and LBW.

Results: 84.6% of immigrant mothers reported prenatal WIC participation. Maternal ethnicities were 67.4% Latina, 27.0% Black non-Latina, 2.2% White non-Latina and 3.5% Other/Multiple Races non-Latina. Infants of prenatal WIC-participant immigrant mothers had higher adjusted mean birthweight (3,231.1g vs. 3,149.8g, p<0.001) and lower adjusted odds of LBW [AOR 0.79 (95% CI: 0.65, 0.97), p=0.02] compared to infants of non-participants. When stratified by mother’s US length of stay, associations were similar between groups.

Conclusions: Prenatal WIC participation for income-eligible immigrant mothers is associated with healthier birthweights among infants born in the US, including for those most recently arrived.