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Editorial
October 2002

Anemia Screening in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and ChildrenTime for Change?

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156(10):969-970. doi:10.1001/archpedi.156.10.969

THE HIGH rate of malnutrition among low-income infants and children in the United States prompted the creation of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in 1972. Accordingly, anemia, an indicator of malnutrition, has been used as a nutritional risk criterion to determine eligibility for WIC benefits. The prevalence of anemia among WIC recipients has also been used as a measure of program success.1,2 During the last 30 years, the use of iron-fortified formulas and cereals became standard practice, breastfeeding rates increased, and cow's milk was introduced at older ages. The WIC program has been instrumental in promoting these nutritional practices through its nutritional counseling and food packages. Thus, WIC has contributed to the substantial decline in the rates and severity of iron deficiency anemia in low-income infants so that the current true rate of iron deficiency anemia in low-income infants and toddlers is approximately 6% to 8%.35

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