Breastfeeding

The WIC administrative database records a mom’s feeding choice based on the type of food package she chooses for her infant. This enables a calculation of the percentage of WIC infants that are breastfed at any given time. Some of these infants are fed both breast milk and formula (labeled as “any” in the graph below), and others are fed only breast milk (labeled as “fully”).

Comparing Breastfeeding Practices Among WIC Infants
In 2009, the WIC Program implemented a policy change in its food packages, and included built-in incentives for mothers to breastfeed. Responding to this incentive, the fully breastfeeding rate nearly doubled in Los Angeles County in the two years following 2009. The change in breastfeeding practices seen below demonstrates the possible incentive that the food package changes had on breastfeeding practices.

Any Breastfeeding Practice Among WIC Infants
In 2016, 57% of all Los Angeles County infants (under one year old) who were WIC recipients were fed breast milk.

Fully Breastfeeding Practice Among WIC Infants
In 2016, 37.4% of all Los Angeles County infants (under one year old) who were WIC recipients were fully (exclusively) breast fed. Hispanic children, who constitute 79% of Los Angeles County WIC population, appear to have the highest breastfeeding rate compared to those of other ethnic groups.

*WIC Food Package Changes occurred in 2009

References/ Further Reading

Whaley, S. E., Koleilat, M. & Jiang, L. (2012). WIC food package data are a valid measure of infant feeding practices. Journal of Human Lactation, 28 (2), 135-139. DOI: 10.1177/0890334412436720.

Whaley, S. E., Koleilat, M., Whaley, M., Gomez, J., Meehan, K. & Saluja, K. (2012). Policy changes impact infant feeding decisions among low-income women participating in WIC. American Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300770.