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Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

Legislative History of Breastfeeding Promotion Requirements in WIC

Last Published: 08/26/2015

1972 – P.L. 92-443

Congress authorized a two-year pilot project to serve pregnant and lactating women, infants, and children up to age four.  In addition to meeting the income guidelines, participants were required to be at nutritional risk.

1975 – P.L. 94-105

  • WIC officially became a permanent national health and nutrition program 
  • Congress explicitly used the term “breastfeeding” in the legislation 
  • Breastfeeding women were defined as women who breastfed their infants up to one year of age.  Non-breastfeeding postpartum women could participate up to six months postpartum.  Eligibility for children was extended to age five. 

1989 – P.L. 101-147

Further increased emphases on breastfeeding promotion in the WIC Program by:

  • Requiring that the USDA define the term “breastfeeding”, as well as develop standards to ensure adequate breastfeeding promotion and support at the State and local levels;

  • Authorizing the use of WIC nutrition services and administrative (NSA) funds to purchase breastfeeding aids, such as breast pumps, which directly support the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding;

  • Requiring the addition of an expert in breastfeeding promotion and support to the National Advisory Council on Maternal, Infant and Fetal Nutrition

  • Requiring that WIC State agencies’ spend annually, at a minimum, their share of $8 million specifically targeted for breastfeeding promotion and support;

    1. Make a yearly evaluation of their breastfeeding promotion and support activities
    2. Provide nutrition education and breastfeeding materials in languages other than English as appropriate
    3. Include in their State plan a plan to provide nutrition education and breastfeeding promotion and a plan to coordinate operations with local agency programs for breastfeeding promotion
    4. Designate a breastfeeding coordinator to provide training on breastfeeding promotion and support to local agency staff responsible for breastfeeding

1992 – P.L. 102-342

Required that the Secretary of Agriculture establish a national breastfeeding promotion program to promote breastfeeding as the best method of infant nutrition, foster wider public acceptance of breastfeeding in the United States, and assist in the distribution of breastfeeding equipment to breastfeeding women.  The Secretary may develop or assist others to develop appropriate materials.  The law also provided authorization for USDA to enter into cooperative agreements with Federal, State, local or other entities to carry out a breastfeeding promotion program.  The law further authorized USDA to solicit and accept donations from outside sources for establishing a breastfeeding promotion program.

1994 – P.L. 103-448

  • Revised the formula for determining the amount of funds to be expended for WIC Breastfeeding promotion and support
  • Under the formula WIC State agencies are required to spend $21 dollars per each pregnant and breastfeeding woman in support of breastfeeding promotion 
  • The legislation also required that each WIC State agency collect data on the incidence and duration of breastfeeding among participants.  This data is required to be reported to Congress every two years. 

1996 – P.L. 104-193

Eliminated the State agency requirement for an annual evaluation of breastfeeding promotion and support activities

1998 – P.L. 105-336

Authorized WIC State agencies to use food funds for the purchase or rental of breast pumps

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