At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Large sample size.
  • Historical trends (1983 to present).
  • Health indicators extensively cross-tabulated by race/ethnicity and other demographic indicators.
  • Some information provided on infants (e.g., birth weight).
  • Can be linked through infant data to the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS).
  • County level data for many counties in the U.S.



To collect data about nutritional and behavioral risk factors associated with infant mortality and poor birth outcomes for low-income pregnant women who participate in federally funded public health programs in the United States (U.S.).

Target Population

Low-income pregnant and postpartum women in the U.S. In 2010, 29 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 3 Indian Tribal Organizations contributed data.


Began in 1983. Conducted continuously. Most recently conducted in 2011.


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

Special Note(s)

PNSS was discontinued in 2012.

PNSS compiles existing data collected on women who participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Information from prenatal and postpartum records are linked. Each woman contributes one record per pregnancy.

See also: Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS).


Sample Design

Sampling is not performed for PNSS. Information for all pregnant women and women in early postpartum period participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are obtained from contributors (state, territorial, and Indian Tribal Organization [ITO] health departments) who choose to participate in a given year.

Sample Size

Approximately 1.2 million women in 2010.

Special Note(s)

Contributors (states, territories and ITOs) that choose to participate in the PNSS submit data to the CDC on a quarterly or annual basis. Data are not nationally representative, as contributors participate voluntarily. Similarly, PNSS is not representative of all low-income pregnant women or pregnant women 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
Household income and household sizeInterview/questionnaire
Migrant status*Interview/questionnaire
Mother’s age and date of birthInterview/questionnaire
Mother’s education levelInterview/questionnaire
Mother’s race/ethnicityInterview/questionnaire
Parity and inter-pregnancy intervalsInterview/questionnaire
Participation in Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs*Interview/questionnaire or program record


NameMethods of Assessment
Maternal multivitamin consumption*Interview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Child birthweightInterview/questionnaire
Diabetes and hypertension during pregnancySelf report or medical record
Maternal heightMeasured
Maternal weight at prenatal and postpartum visitsMeasured
Maternal weight gain during pregnancyInterview/questionnaire
Pre-pregnancy body mass indexCalculated
Pre-pregnancy weight Interview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
State, clinic, and countyN/A


NameMethods of Assessment
Maternal and household smoking Interview/questionnaire

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 data with non-contributors. Individuals and agencies other than contributors wishing to access PNSS 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 Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, make their annual PNSS reports available for download online.


Public-use data are available free of charge.


Geocode Variable(s)

State, clinic, and county.

Existing Linkages

PNSS data have been linked to Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS) data using the infant identification number (not available in every state).

Certain states, such as Hawaii, North Carolina, and Vermont, routinely link birth certificate and PNSS data. Learn more.

Selected Publications


Reinold C, Dalenius K, Brindley P, Smith B, Grummer-Strawn L. Pregnancy nutrition surveillance 2009 report. Atlanta (GA): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011. 2007-2009 PNSS Summary Reports also are available.


Ahluwalia I, Tessaro I, Grummer-Strawn L, MacGowan C, Benton-Davis S. Georgia's breastfeeding promotion program for low-income women. Pediatrics 2000;105(6):e85.

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


Adams A, Harvey H, Prince R. Association of maternal smoking with overweight at age 3 y in American Indian children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005;82(2):393-398.

Dietz PM, Callaghan WM, Cogswell ME, Morrow B, Ferre C, Schieve LA. Combined effects of prepregnancy body mass index and weight gain during pregnancy on the risk of preterm delivery. Epidemiology 2006;17(2):170-177.

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