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Hispanic Family Facts: WIC can connect Latina women to essential maternal care

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides states with funding for food, health care and other service referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant and postpartum women, and for children up to age 5. The program also provides nutrition and prenatal counseling that is associated with positive birth and infant outcomes.

Still, more than half of WIC recipients enroll in the program after the first trimester. And although roughly 42 percent of WIC participants are Latina women, Latinas start prenatal care later in their pregnancy than their peers, according to the 2018 Latina Maternal and Child Health Review. Poor or no prenatal care is associated with a host of negative outcomes for mothers and babies. Women who do not access prenatal care are also less likely to receive postpartum well-checks, which provide important services such as screening for postpartum depression, intimate partner violence, infant immunizations, and a variety of infant health screenings.

Culturally responsive approaches are a crucial part of serving diverse populations who could benefit from programs like WIC, and could help reduce barriers to accessing them and the services they provide.