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Diarrheal Illness among Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program Participants in Miami, Florida: Implications for Nutrition Education

Davila, Evelyn P., Trepka, Mary Jo, Newman, Frederick L., Huffman, Fatma G., Dixon, Zisca
Journal of nutrition education and behavior 2009 v.41 no.6 pp. 420-424
diarrhea, mothers, nutrition education, pregnant women, food contamination, disease prevention, home food preparation, hand washing, WIC Program, children, infant nutrition, maternal nutrition, foodborne illness, food sanitation, child nutrition, infants, Florida
Objective: To assess risk factors for diarrheal illness among clients of a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) clinic in Miami, FL. Design: A cross-sectional survey with questions about demographics, food safety practices, and diarrheal illness. Setting: WIC clinic operated by the Miami-Dade County Health Department in Florida. WIC is a national program for nutritionally at-risk, low-income young children and pregnant or postpartum women. Participants: WIC female clients at least 18 years of age who are able to read and speak English (n = 299). Main Outcome Measure: Diarrheal illness, defined as having at least 3 loose stools for 2 or more consecutive days during the previous 30 days. Analysis: Univariate and multiple logistic regression analyses. Results: Food safety behaviors significantly associated with diarrheal illness included not washing hands before preparing meals (P = .048) and baby bottles (P = .045) or after changing diapers (P = .009) and not washing all items that touched raw meat before preparing the next food item (P = .023). In general, pregnant women reported less frequent hand washing and had a lower food safety score than nonpregnant women (P = .002). Conclusions and Implications: These findings suggest that interventions to improve food handling practices such as proper hand washing are needed for WIC clients, particularly pregnant women.