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Commenter I

Barbara Devaney, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.:

A major limitation with some previous analyses of birth weight is that they did not account for gestational age bias. It is possible to control for gestational age bias by looking at full-term births only. If we know the timing of WIC enrollment or, alternatively, if we restrict the sample to one in which gestational age bias has been removed, then it is possible to estimate the relationship between prenatal WIC participation and birth weight without concern for gestational age bias.

Some argue that there may be limited potential for WIC to affect birth weight. While it is useful to think carefully through a logic model for designing studies of WIC effectiveness, it seems premature to rule out an important line of analysis. The point of a research agenda is to identify research topics of interest, conduct the analysis, and let the results provide the answer, not to dismiss a set of results before doing the analysis.

In summary, given the objectives of the WIC program to address the critical development periods of pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood, a research agenda should include questions related to the effects of prenatal WIC participation on birth outcomes. Rather than reducing the focus on birth outcomes, think carefully about the range of birth outcomes that should be examined. In addition to the important ones identified at the workshop, newborn birth weight should also be considered.

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