Black newborns likely to die when cared for by White doctors - Study, says

A study has found that Black newborn babies in the United states are more likely to survive if cared for by Black doctors but three times for likely to die than White babies if looked after by White doctors.
Emeh Joy

A study has found that Black newborn babies in the United States are more likely to survive childbirth if they are cared for by Black doctors, but three times more likely than White Babies to die when they are looked after by White doctors.

According to the research, as reported in CNN, the mortality rate of Black newborns in hospitals shrunk between 39% and 58% when Black physicians are in charge of the birth.

The study revealed how shocking racial differences in human health can affect even the first hours of a human's life. The mortality rate for White babies, on the other hand, was not affected by doctors' race.

The finding of this research does support a previous report which has shown that even though infant mortality rates have reduced in recent decades, Black children are still significantly more likely to die early when compared to the White counterparts.

The new study was published on Monday in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

It had researchers from George Mason University analyse data which captured 1.8 million hospital births in Florida between 1992 and 2015.

The researchers found that when cared for by White physicians, Black newborns were about three times more likely to die in the hospital than the White newborns.

They noted a significant drop in that disparity when the physician was Black. However, Black newborns remained more likely than White newborns to die nonetheless.

Another study says, eventhough US infant mortality rate declined over the recent years, Black infants are still twice as likely to die.

A co-author of the study, Rachel Hardeman said on Twitter:

"Our study provides the first evidence that the Black-White newborn mortality gap is smaller when Black MDs provide care for Black newborns that when White MDs do, lending support to research examining the importance of racial concordance in addressing healthcare inequalities.

"Black babies have been dying at disproportionate rates since as long as we've collected data. The time is now to change this and ensure that Black infants are afforded the opportunity to thrive".

The US Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health said it's already known that Black infants have 2.3 times infant mortality rate as White infants.

Also, a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in June which covered the period between 2000 to 2007 found that Black infants still have more than two times the risk of dying as White infants.

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".

There was no speculation made as regards the reasons behind the trend. However, the authors wrote:

"Taken with this work, it gives warrant for hospitals and other care organisations to invest in efforts to reduce such biases and explore their connection to institutional racism".

The researchers further added, "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".

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