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The USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) works to support the health of low-income pregnant women and children who are at nutritional risk. Part of this effort is to support breastfeeding, through education, peer and professional support, and providing nutritional support to breastfeeding women.
The WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study 2 (also known as the “Feeding My Baby” Study) sought to measure women’s perceptions of the benefits of and barriers to breastfeeding, among other things. This was a follow up to the WIC Infant and Toddler Feeding Practices Study 1 that was completed in 1995.
Results of the study show that more mothers agree with many perceived benefits of breastfeeding than did in 1995. In 2013, 80% of WIC mothers’ believe that breastfed babies are healthier than formula fed babies, compared to 61% of the same population holding that belief in 1995.
In addition, fewer women are reporting barriers to breastfeeding. Of the 2013 study participants, 17% believe that breastfeeding ties you down, while in 1995, 41% reported feeling tied down.
This positive shift in beliefs over the past 20 years among WIC participants has outpaced the changes in beliefs among the general population, according to the CDC Health Styles Survey. For example, the percentage of WIC-participating women agreeing that breastfeeding is healthier for babies than formula increased 19%, while the CDC data show only a 9% increase in agreement among US women overall.
WIC staff are an important resource for breastfeeding information, with 68% of women reporting they spoke with WIC staff about breastfeeding, and 72% reporting that they received breastfeeding information from WIC.
The results of this study are a huge win for the WIC program, showing staff, participants, and the public that WIC is meeting their goals and making a positive impact in the communities they serve. The complete study results can be found here: http://www.fns.usda.gov/special-supplemental-nutrition-program-women-infants-and-children-wic-infant-and-toddler-feeding. If interested in more information about St. Croix County WIC, call 715-246-8359.