WIC, Medicaid Have Reduced Infant Deaths

April 21, 1999

University Park, Pa. -- Two key public programs under political scrutiny -- the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Medicaid -- have reduced infant deaths, says researchers.

"WIC and Medicaid have helped poor women reduce infant mortality on two levels," says Dr. Karen P. Carver, assistant professor of sociology at Penn State and a research associate with the University's Population Research Institute. "First, WIC and Medicaid participants have lower infant death rates associated with pregnancy and delivery.

"Second, WIC participation by mothers is beneficial for infants at risk of death due primarily to environmental or external causes, including infectious and contagious diseases and accidents," Carver notes.

Carver and Dr. Nancy E. Moss, an associate of the Pacific Institute for Women's Health in Los Angeles, are co-authors of the article, "The Effect of WIC and Medicaid on Infant Mortality in the United States," published in the American Journal Of Public Health.

To estimate WIC and Medicaid effects on infant mortality, the researchers used a survey comparing participating and non-participating women whose household incomes were a little less than double the 1988 poverty line. The study data were obtained from the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey, which contained measures of program participation during pregnancy and infancy.

"WIC intervention during pregnancy appears to reduce both deaths related to pregnancy and delivery, and mortality resulting from subsequent disease or accident," Carver says.

The researchers' findings also suggest that, compared to children of self-insured or uninsured women, children of Medicaid participants are less likely to die in the course of pregnancy and delivery; their risk of death was equal to that of the privately insured. However, infants of Medicaid participants are still at higher risk of death due to environmental or external causes after delivery.

In the sample group, mothers in the WIC program were found to be younger, poorer and less well-educated than non-participating mothers. The chances are greater that they will be African-American, say the researchers.

"Women on Medicaid during pregnancy tend to be young, to be African-American, to have less than a high school education and to be at a lower income level than poor women not on Medicaid," says Carver. "Medicaid participants are also more likely to be smokers or be around smokers and are much less likely to breast-feed their infants than mothers not on Medicaid."

The Welfare Reform Act in 1996 marked a decisive change from the programs begun under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and expanded by the Great Society and War on Poverty initiatives of the 1960s. The act shifts responsibility for welfare support to the states through block grant programs and removes federal standards and guarantees for support, according to Carver.

"These changes are not expected to affect WIC, but they could affect Medicaid," Carver notes. "Although Medicaid remains outside the block grant provisions, states now have discretion as to who will be covered and what will be provided in Medicaid. Under the 1996 law, Medicaid is already decoupled from cash assistance.

"Social programs implemented in the 1960s are now being curtailed little by little. Public policy researchers should monitor the consequences of this for infant health," adds the Penn State researcher.
-end-
EDITORS: Dr. Carver is at 814-863-6398 and at carver@pop.psu.edu by email. Dr. Moss is at 510-987-9809 and at nemoss@worldnet.att.net by email.



Penn State

Related Pregnancy Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 has a prolonged effect for many during pregnancy
Symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated in a national study led by UC San Francisco and UCLA.

Relaxed through pregnancy
A group of researchers from Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been able to show that maternal psychological wellbeing during pregnancy has a positive effect on newborn infants.

Trajectories of antidepressant medication use during pregnancy
In an analysis of women who started pregnancy when taking antidepressant medications, investigators identified three trajectories of antidepressant dispensing during pregnancy: more than half stopped their treatment, a quarter maintained their treatment throughout pregnancy, and one-fifth discontinued it for a minimum of three months and then resumed it during the postpartum period.

Are women using e-cigarettes during preconception and/or pregnancy?
A new study of 1,365 racially/ethnically diverse, low-income pregnant women found that 4% reported e-cigarette use.

A better pregnancy test for whales
To determine whale pregnancy, researchers have relied on visual cues or hormone tests of blubber collected via darts, but the results were often inconclusive.

Cannabis use during pregnancy
The large health care system Kaiser Permanente Northern California provides universal screening for prenatal cannabis use in women during pregnancy by self-report and urine toxicology testing.

Questions and answers about cannabis use during pregnancy
A new study shows that women have many medical questions about the use of cannabis both before and during pregnancy, and during the postpartum period while breastfeeding.

The effect of taking antidepressants during pregnancy
Exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy and the first weeks of life can alter sensory processing well into adulthood, according to research in mice recently published in eNeuro.

Is ivermectin safe during pregnancy?
Is it safe to give ivermectin to pregnant women? To answer this question, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by 'la Caixa,' conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported cases of accidental exposure to the drug among pregnant women.

Going to sleep on your back in late pregnancy
This study looked at whether going to sleep on your back in the third trimester of pregnancy was associated with average lower birth weights.

Read More: Pregnancy News and Pregnancy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.