The Effects of the Revised WIC Package on Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding Behaviors of California WIC Mothers
Mentor:Loan Kim, Assistant Professor of Nutritional Science , Pepperdine University
Low-income women participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) have had historically lower breastfeeding rates than other women. In 2009, the WIC program revised their food packages and provided more food in their exclusive breastfeeding packages as an incentive for WIC mothers to breastfeed. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the revised WIC package on California WIC mothers by analyzing data from the Nutrition Education and Food Package Impact (NEFPI) study. Identical survey methodology was used with random samples of WIC participants and data was analyzed using Pearson chi-square tests. We examined the relationships between the following: 1.) Breastfeeding duration, 2.) Formula initiation and 3.) Exclusive in-hospital breastfeeding. 24.4% of mothers reported they were still breastfeeding and they had exclusively breastfed in the hospital. On the other hand, 26.4% of mothers said they were still breastfeeding and had given their infant formula already. Because the NEFPI survey did not include how long or how much formula the mothers fed to their children, it is possible that the same mothers answered these statements and were breastfeeding and formula feeding concurrently. We also found 47.2% of mothers who formula fed their children already reported they didn’t breastfeed (22.5%) or breastfed only for 1 to 3 months (24.7%). Although a majority of mothers were formula feeding and breastfeeding their babies, these results indicate that formula feeding is a barrier for mothers to breastfeed long term, which also indicates that mothers were not strictly receiving the exclusively breastfeeding food package or were using their own formula. Further public health research should examine the long-term issuance of exclusively breastfeeding food packages and formula feeding rates among WIC participants.