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Black newborns are three times more likely to die when they're looked after by White doctors

A study conducted by a team of researchers at George Mason University found that Black-White newborn mortality gap shrinks when Black MDs provide care for Black newborns.

Black newborns are three times more likely to die when they're looked after by White doctors
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A study conducted by researchers from George Mason University found that right from the moment a Black child is born, they are subject to institutional racism. Black newborns cared for by Black doctors, the research team discovered, are more likely to survive. Conversely, Black newborns cared for by White doctors are three times more likely to die. While the researchers did not identify a particular reason for this disparity, they did suggest that hospitals should invest time and resources at surveying the connections between institutional racism and newborn mortality rates. Black infants already have a mortality rate that is 2.3 times higher than White infants (as per the US Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health), so this new study is another cause for concern, CNN reports.



According to the George Mason University research, the mortality rate of Black newborns decreased by between 39% and 58%, when Black physicians took charge of the newborn's birth. The mortality rate for White babies, on the other hand, was mostly unaffected by the doctor's own race. This new study corroborates findings from previous research papers that found that, while infant mortality rates overall have been decreasing, Black children are significantly more likely to die earlier than their White counterparts. Another report, compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, discovered that Black infants still are at more than twice the risk of dying as White infants.



The new study, published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), was conducted by analyzing 1.8 million hospital births in the state of Florida between the years 1992 and 2015. The authors wrote, "Strikingly, these effects appear to manifest more strongly in more complicated cases, and when hospitals deliver more Black newborns. The findings suggest that Black physicians outperform their White colleagues when caring for Black newborns."



Instead of speculating the reasons behind this disparity, the authors recommended, "Taken with this work, it gives warrant for hospitals and other care organizations to invest in efforts to reduce such biases and explore their connection to institutional racism. Reducing racial disparities in newborn mortality will also require raising awareness among physicians, nurses, and hospital administrators about the prevalence of racial and ethnic disparities." The tangible impact of race in this area has thus far been scarcely researched, though significant studies have shown that there is indeed an undeniable impact on the health of Black families as a result of systemic racism.


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