The category of predisposing conditions poses a challenge to the committee's analysis of the scientific basis of the nutrition risk criteria. A large number of behavioral, cultural, nutrition, and medical conditions can place individuals at risk of poor nutrition status, and states have used considerable latitude in defining predisposing nutrition risk criteria. In addition to homelessness and migrancy, other predisposing risks used to certify the eligibility of individuals for participation in the WIC program include passive smoking, low maternal education, young caregiver, battering, child of a mentally retarded parent, and child abuse and neglect. This chapter summarizes the scientific evidence for these predisposing nutrition risk criteria. Table 7-1 presents the number of states using each of these predisposing risk criteria for women, infants, and children. Table 7-2 provides a summary of these criteria as predictors of nutrition risk and of benefit from WIC program participation.

This chapter does not cover caretaker physically disabled or inadequate facilities for food preparation or storage. Physical disability is a broad term covering widely varying conditions, most of which are compatible with appropriate child care. Apart from homelessness, the committee did not find a scientific basis on which to review the relationship between food preparation facilities and nutrition risk or benefit.

TABLE 7-1 Summary of Predisposing Risk Criteria in the WIC Program and Use by States

 

States Using

Risk Criterion

Pregnant Womena

Infants

Children

Homelessness

1

Migrancy

21

20

Passive smoking

3

Low level of maternal education and illiteracy

2

Young caregiver

6

0

Maternal depression

Battering

7

Child abuse or neglect

9

7

Child of a mentally retarded parent

35

26

NOTE: Dashes denote that the criterion was not reported for that population.

a Data for postpartum women were not readily available.

SOURCE: Adapted from USDA (1992).



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