Courtney Jung’s article ‘Overselling Breast-Feeding’ on October 16th mischaracterizes the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children known as WIC, our country's most important science-based public health nutrition program for mothers and young children.
WIC serves more than 8 million members, including more than half of all babies born in the United States. As a short-term, evidence-based intervention program, WIC is designed to influence lifetime nutrition and health behaviors in a targeted, high-risk population. WIC is well documented to improve health outcomes for many of America’s most vulnerable families.
Contrary to Ms. Jung’s assertion, the WIC program does not withhold food from or punish mothers who choose not to breastfeed. Characterizing the program in this way, wrongly portrays WIC and risks preventing vulnerable, low-income families from accessing support from WIC when they need it most.
The WIC program recognizes different nutritional needs and respects the complicated choice that some women have to make regarding breastfeeding versus formula feeding. WIC food packages are the result of intensive review of the most current nutrition science by an Institute of Medicine expert panel and the packages for postpartum moms and infants reflect their unique nutritional needs.
WIC encourages breastfeeding for all mothers following guidance from national and international medical communities including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. At the same time, WIC recognizes that not all new moms want to or are able to breastfeed. WIC is universally recognized by these moms for the support it offers all participating moms with nutrition education, food vouchers, and medical and social service referrals.