WIC: Killing the Children with Kindness.....

The United States Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC, distributes vouchers for food for low-income families.

Among the food distributed is about half the infant formula in the entire U.S. According to a study from the University of Hawai’i, WIC’s distribution of infant formula not only distorts the market for infant formula, it puts these infants at risk of illness and death.

Despite the fact that breastfeeding is well known to be much better for infants than formula, and a demonstrated link exists between not breastfeeding and infant mortality, WIC — while ostensibly promoting breastfeeding for infants less than one year old — also gives these mothers vouchers for infant formula, driving the price of the formula sky high, discouraging breastfeeding, and contributing to hundreds of infant deaths every year.

According to the paper (PDF) published in the International Breastfeeding Journal, at least 720 deaths in the U.S. every year are attributable to failing to breastfeed. “This estimate of the impact of not breastfeeding may be understated,” writes political science professor George Kent, the paper’s author. Worse, “In rich countries as well as poor, the consequences of not breastfeeding are more likely to show up as illness rather than death.”

Kent found that more than half of the infant formula sold in the country is distributed through WIC, that government promoting formula through subsidies directly contradicts established medical advice on breastfeeding, that the government is therefore promoting malnutrition.

Not to mention the high prices. Around here, infant formula runs $11.99 per can, and WIC recipients get six cans at a time. For free. That’s a lot of nutritious breast milk that those children in low-income families are missing out on. Plus, the nearest store to me, where I shop frequently, is often out of stock.

Finally, the three infant formula manufacturers kick back a part of their revenues into the WIC program. They can easily afford to do this because the retail price is many times the wholesale price. Formula manufacturers bid to provide the formula on a statewide basis in each state, with the lowest bid net of rebates considered the winning bid, and that formula manufacturer gets exclusive rights to distribute WIC formula in that state. Typically this is only a few cents per can. Grocery stores are reimbursed the entire retail price of WIC products, so they tend to jack up the price. This costs taxpayers more money than they otherwise would have paid.

Kent calls for WIC subsidies of infant formula to be ended. I wholeheartedly concur.

I would favor the whole WIC program be terminated. Unfortunately, like many federal aid programs administered by the states, WIC has a vigorous lobby group — National WIC — made up of the thousands of state and local government officials that run the program.

The group’s 2006 legislative agenda is entitled “WIC at RISK! A Healthy, Strong America in Jeopardy!” The document predicts dire consequences if Congress doesn’t go along. Unfortunately, most members buy into such doomsday rhetoric and aren’t regular readers of the International Breastfeeding Journal. — Chris Edwards, Cato Institute

Government bureaucrats lobbying to keep their own jobs. Who would have thought? But they aren’t the ones who suffer and grieve when their months-old son or daughter dies from malnutrition because they were fed government formula instead of breast milk.

By Michael Hampton - May 21, 2007 - www.HomelandStupidity.us

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Submitted by SadInAmerica on Wed, 01/16/2008 - 3:39pm.

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