Geisinger secures $400K to study health equity during pregnancy

Feb. 9—DANVILLE — Geisinger will study the effectiveness of integrating Pennsylvania Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program referrals into prenatal clinical care using $400,000 in funding from the American Heart Association.

Participation in WIC has shown numerous benefits including longer pregnancies, fewer premature births, fewer low birth weight infants and overall health care cost savings, though over the last 20 years less than half of those eligible have enrolled in the program, according to Geisinger.

The hospital's study will examine if WIC referrals during prenatal appointments result in increased enrollment and subsequent improved food security. This tactic has been successful in a pediatric population, but has not yet been studied during pregnancy, Geisinger said.

"This project will help us learn whether simple strategies that clinicians take make it easier for patients to connect with food programs and learn skills to eat heart-healthy meals," said Lisa Bailey-Davis, associate professor in Geisinger's Department of Population Health Sciences and associate director of the Center for Obesity and Metabolic Health.

— ANNA WIEST