Why Wait?: Delayed Participation in WIC Among Pregnant Women

Laura Tiehen, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Alison Jacknowitz, American University

Research that identifies the factors that influence when, as well as if, a pregnant woman begins receiving WIC can aid in the design of effective targeting and outreach efforts. This research uses a recently released data set, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), to examine the timing of prenatal WIC participation. We find that almost three-fourths of eligible pregnant women participated in WIC in 2001, which represents about 40 percent of all pregnant women who gave birth that year. Although the majority of eligible pregnant participants begin participating during their first trimester, there is a substantial percentage who begin later. Hispanic women, teen mothers, and women experiencing a first birth enroll in WIC later in their pregnancies. Early WIC participation also depends on the mother’s early knowledge of her pregnancy.

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Presented in Session 98: Public Policy and Child Well-Being