At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Provides census information on participants in public health nutrition programs in the state.
  • Health indicators extensively cross-tabulated by race/ethnicity and other demographic indicators.
  • Has large sample size.
  • Provides historical trends (1973 to date).
  • Includes measured weights and heights on low-income children through age 4 years.
  • Has state-level data for 46 states.
  • Can be linked through infant data to the Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System (PNSS).
  • Has county-level data for many counties in the U.S.



To collect data about nutritional status of low-income infants and children in federally funded maternal and child health programs in the United States (U.S.).

Target Population

Children younger than age 5 years in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and six Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) (2010).


Began in 1973. Continuous data collection. Most recent year conducted was 2011.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Special Note(s)

PedNSS was discontinued in 2012.

PedNSS compiles existing data on infants and children who visit public health clinics for routine care, nutrition education, and supplemental foods. These data primarily are collected from health, nutrition, and food assistance programs for infants and children, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) (88% of records); Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) programs, and clinics funded Maternal and Child Health Program (MCH) Block Grants and state Child Health programs (15% of records).

See also: Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System (PNSS).


Sample Design

Sampling is not performed for PedNSS. Information for all children participating in public health programs contributing data to the system is obtained from state, territorial, and Indian Tribal Organization (ITO) health departments who choose to participate in a given year.

Sample Size

Approximately 9 million children in 2010.

Special Note(s)

State, territorial, and ITO health departments that choose to participate in the PedNSS submit data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a monthly basis. Fluctuations in the number of contributors or the demographic characteristics of the contributors’ populations can affect trends. The number of PedNSS contributors differs slightly from year to year because all state health departments do not submit data every year.

PedNSS is not representative of children in the general population.

Measurement and data recording methods are not strictly standardized across states and reporting clinics. To maximize the quality of the data collected, CDC continuously provides standard guidelines and gives technical assistance. Data quality reports are routinely returned to contributors. These reports identify data errors, such as missing and miscoded data and data substantially outside of normal ranges, which may represent measurement or other data collection or extraction errors.

Key Variables


NameMethods of Assessment
Child’s date of birth and ageInterview/questionnaire
Household income and household sizeInterview/questionnaire
Migrant status*Interview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Breastfeeding exclusivity*Interview/questionnaire
Breastfeeding initiation and durationInterview/questionnaire
Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program*Interview/questionnaire

Physical Activity-Related

NameMethods of Assessment
Television viewing for children older than age 2 years*Interview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Birth weightInterview/questionnaire
Body mass indexCalculated


NameMethods of Assessment
State, clinic, and countyN/A

Special Note(s)

*Supplemental (optional)

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Recent year national and state-level aggregated data are publically available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares only de-identified PedNSS data files with non-contributors. Individuals and agencies other than contributors wishing to access PedNSS data files with identifiable data must first obtain the permission of the respective contributor(s), who may then advance the request to CDC.

Many states, such as California, Kentucky, Iowa, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, make their annual PedNSS reports available for download online.


Public information free of charge.


Geocode Variable(s)

State, clinic, and county.

Existing Linkages

PedNSS data have been linked to Pregnancy Nutrition Surveillance System (PNSS) data using the infant identification number (not available in every state). Learn more in articles by Sharma AJ et al., Procter SB et al., and Li R et al.

Selected Publications


Polhamus B, Dalenius K, Mackintosh H, Smith B, Grummer-Strawn L. Pediatric nutrition surveillance 2009 report. Atlanta (GA): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.

2002-2009 PedNSS Summary Reports are available.


Grummer-Strawn LM. Mei Z. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System. Does breastfeeding protect against pediatric overweight? Analysis of longitudinal data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System. Pediatrics 2004;113(2):e81-86.

Li R, Jewell S, Grummer-Strawn L. Maternal obesity and breast-feeding practices. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003;77(4):931-936.

May Al, Donohue M, Scanlon KS, Sherry B, Dalenius K, Faulkner P, Birch LL. Are maternal child-feeding practices and maternal perceptions and concerns for child’s weight associated with the preschool child’s overweight status in a low-income population? Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2007;107(7):1167-1174.


Sharma AJ, Cogswell ME, Li R. Dose-response associations between maternal smoking during pregnancy and subsequent childhood obesity: Effect modification by maternal race/ethnicity in a low-income U.S. cohort. American Journal of Epidemiology 2008;168(9):995-1007.

Sharma AJ, Grummer-Strawn LM, Dalenius K, Galuska D, Anandappa M, Borland E, Mackintosh H, Smith R. Obesity prevalence among low-income, preschool-aged children -- United States, 1998-2008. JAMA 2010;303(1):28-30.

Wojcicki JM, Heyman MB. Let’s Move – Childhood obesity prevention from pregnancy and infancy onward. New England Journal of Medicine 2010;362(16):1457-1459.