Study Shows Early Involvement in Public Health Nutrition Program Reduces Risk Factor for Childhood Obesity, Increases Infant Health

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 28, 2014) – State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., today announced the results of a recent study which show a positive association between early prenatal participation in New York State's Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and a reduced risk of rapid infant weight gain, a risk factor for childhood obesity.

The study, "Prenatal Participation in a Public Health Nutrition Program is Associated with Healthy Infant Weight Gain," published in the December 19 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, shows that earlier prenatal enrollment was associated with 25 percent reduced odds of rapid infant weight gain from birth to one year of age.

"These results show impressive health benefits for infants whose mothers participate early in the WIC program." Commissioner Shah said. "They also show how critical the role of proper nutrition is when it comes to having a positive impact on a child's health."

The study compared infants of women who enrolled in WIC during the prenatal period, to those whose mothers delayed enrollment until the postpartum period. This study is the first to show that the advantages associated with early maternal participation extend through the first year of life. Additionally, it shows that the mechanism through which early prenatal WIC participation protects against rapid weight gain among infants, is through improved birth weight-for-gestational age.

The WIC program promotes the health of more than 500,000 low-income pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding women, and infants and children up to the age of five years. The program provides nutritious supplemental foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and referrals to health care and social services.

Additional information about New York's WIC program is available at