The Economy Project
10:50 am
Mon October 5, 2009

WIC Changes Encourage Breastfeeding

Kansas City, MO – Beginning this month, several new food options will be available through Missouri WIC, or women infants and children programs. Officials say the move marks the most comprehensive change to nutrition guidelines in three decades and is designed to encourage breastfeeding.

Mothers will get enhanced food packages with more fruits and vegetables if they breastfeed their newborns for at least a month. Formula will also no longer be part of the standard package.

Eve Wells, head of the WIC program at Samuel Rodgers Health Center, says discouraging the use of formula will have a big impact. She says a lot of women who come to Sam Rogers give their babies formula early on without realizing that doing so can make it a lot harder to breastfeed.

"They're giving the baby so much formula that they're not producing the milk, and the dynamic of breastfeeding has been altered," says Wells. "And it just kind of leads them down a road that then it's just more difficult for it to be successful."

Wells says only about half of Missouri mothers currently enrolled in WIC try to breastfeed. Meanwhile, health officials say the practice has major benefits like reducing a child's risk for allergies, asthma and diabetes.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

Download recent health stories or subscribe to the KCUR Health Podcast