North Carolina WIC - Women, Infants & Children

Research Proves WIC Makes a Difference!

Does WIC Improve Health?

Evidence suggests that women who participate in WIC have improved pregnancy outcomes, resulting in healthier babies and reduced newborn medical costs. This benefits the infants and saves Medicaid millions of dollars in intensive neonatal care. Other studies' findings show that:

  • Newborn intensive care costs $2.4 billion, or about $15,000 a baby. The average cost of WIC benefits for a pregnant woman is less than $250 (source, 1985).
  • Children who participate in WIC were more likely to receive regular preventive health services and were better immunized than children who did not participate in WIC (National WIC Evaluation, 1987).
  • North Carolina Medicaid costs dropped by an estimated $744 for the first 50 days of life. In other words, for every dollar spent on prenatal WIC participation, North Carolina saved $3.90 in newborn Medicaid costs (WIC Medicaid Evaluation, 1992).
  • WIC benefits improved the quality of diet among infants and preschool children in the WIC Program (National WIC Evaluation, 1987).
  • WIC provides quality, cost-effective care to hundreds of thousands of North Carolina women, infants, and children.

Benefits to Women and Newborns

  • WIC saves public health care dollars. In North Carolina, every WIC dollar spent on a pregnant woman saves $3.13 in Medicaid costs during the first 60 days of the infant's life.
  • WIC participation significantly increases the number of women receiving adequate prenatal care.
  • WIC dramatically lowers infant mortality by about 25% to 66% among Medicaid beneficiaries who participated in WIC, compared to Medicaid beneficiaries who did not participate in WIC.
  • WIC improves the dietary intake of pregnant and postpartum women. It also improves weight gain in pregnant women.
  • WIC participation decreases the incidence of low birth weight by 3.3% and lowers pre-term births by 3.5%.
  • Women who received Medicaid benefits and prenatal WIC services had substantially lower rates of low and very low birth weight than did women who received Medicaid but not prenatal WIC.

Benefits to Children

  • WIC lowers the rate of anemia among participating children ages six months to five years. The data shows an average decrease in the anemia rate of more than 16% for each year from 1980 to 1992.
  • WIC significantly improves children's diets, particularly when it comes to vitamins and nutrients including iron, vitamin C, thiamin, protein, niacin, and vitamin B6.
  • Four and five year-olds who participate in WIC in early childhood have better vocabularies and digit memory scores than comparable children who do not participate in WIC.
  • WIC participation leads to higher rates of immunization against childhood diseases.

 


Department of Health and Human Services

North Carolina Public Health