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The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) was established by Congress in 1972 to improve birth outcomes and early childhood development by providing supplemental food and nutrition education to pregnant, breast-feeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5 years. Persons are eligible for WIC benefits if their family incomes are below 185% of poverty level and if they have a medical and/or nutritional risk, for example, iron-deficiency anemia (1,2).
The National WIC Evaluation indicated that WIC was effective in reducing nutrition-related problems among program participants (3,4). Most studies of WIC have focused on beneficial effects of participation for mothers and newborns and indicate savings in Medicaid costs (2,59), more frequent and earlier initiation of prenatal care (10-14), increased rate of breast-feeding (15), higher birth weight (6,10,16-22), decreased neonatal mortality (10), and improved blood hemoglobin levels among prenatal women (23). Consistent with these favorable results, a small number of studies have shown that infants and children participating in WIC had higher dietary intakes of vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron (3,4,24,25) and higher cognitive ability than nonparticipants (26).
Previous studies have attempted to identify factors associated with WIC participation among eligible candidates (12,14,27). To our knowledge, no published study has assessed withdrawal rates for infants and children who participate in WIC and factors associated with this phenomenon. We, therefore, [TABULAR DATA OMITTED] sought to assess withdrawal rates among infants and children newly enrolled in the State of Maryland WIC.
To assess withdrawal rates, we obtained Maryland state data tapes for participants in WIC for the period from April 1992 to October …