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Publication Date

November 1, 2017


Journal Article

Breastfeeding Is Associated With Higher Retention in WIC After Age 1

By Whaley S, Whaley M, Au L, Gurzo K, Ritchie L


Examine factors associated with retention on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) after 1 year of age.


A large California WIC program.


WIC participants 14 months old (9,632) between July and September, 2016.

Main Outcome Measure

Recertification in WIC by 14 months of age.


Multivariate logistic regression was performed and odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were computed to examine factors associated with child retention in WIC at age 14 months.


Mothers performing any amount of breastfeeding from 6 to 12 months were more likely than mothers not breastfeeding to recertify their children in WIC at age 14 months. The odds of retention for children fully breastfed from 6 to 12 months was about 3 times higher than for fully formula-fed children (95% CI, 2.46–3.59). The odds of retention for mostly breastfed children and children fed some breast milk but mostly formula were 1.95 (95% CI, 1.57–2.43) and 1.72 (95% CI, 1.41–2.10) times higher than fully formula-fed children. Prenatal intention to breastfeed (OR = 1.34; 95% CI, 1.16–1.55), online education (OR = 1.08; 95% CI, 1.03–1.13), missing benefits (OR = 0.19; 95% CI, 0.17–0.21), underredemption of WIC benefits (OR = 0.51, 95% CI, 0.45–0.58), early enrollment in WIC (OR = 1.11; 95% CI, 1.09–1.14), number of family members receiving WIC (OR = 1.29, 95% CI, 1.14–1.46), English language preference (OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.47–0.64), and participation in Medicaid (OR = 1.29; 95% CI, 1.14–1.47) were also associated with retention.

Conclusions and Implications

Results from this study suggested there are a number of areas WIC programs may target to promote ongoing participation in the program. These include support for both breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding women, technology-based strategies, and targeted outreach to pregnant women, participants who have missed benefits, and participants who have not redeemed their benefits. Research that examines the impact of targeted interventions directed at ≥1 of these areas is essential to help WIC programs maintain contact with children into early childhood.

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Date Added
November 15, 2017

Whaley S, Whaley M, Au L, Gurzo K, Ritchie L (2017) 'Breastfeeding Is Associated With Higher Retention in WIC After Age 1'. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior: Vol. 49, Issue 10, pp. 810-816.e1. Available online: https://www.jneb.org/article/S1499-4046(17)30772-8/fulltext