Study: Black Babies More likely to Live Under Care of Black Doctors

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[Black Infant Mortality]
Greenwood: "I also think that underscores how insidious something like this is. Children are dying as a result of just structural problems."
Photo: NIH.gov

Black newborns are more likely to survive during childbirth when cared for by Black doctors, according to a new study.

In the United States, Black babies die at three times the rate of white newborns during their initial hospital stays, according to a peer-reviewed study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But when Black doctors cared for Black babies, their mortality rate was cut in half.

While this data doesn't tell us exactly why this happens, a mix of structural issues could've contributed, and "each are really disturbing," said Brad Greenwood, study co-author and an associate professor of Information Systems & Operations Management Sciences at George Mason University.

"I don't think any of us would suggest as co-authors that these results are manifesting as a result of malicious bias on the part of physicians," Greenwood said. "I also think that underscores how insidious something like this is. Children are dying as a result of just structural problems."

Researchers analyzed 1.8 million hospital birth records in Florida from 1992 to 2015 and identified the race of the doctor.

The study found the largest decrease in Black newborn mortality rate occurred in complex births and at hospitals that deliver more Black babies.

The race of the doctor caring for white babies did not make much difference to the likelihood of survival, and there was no statistically significant improvement in maternal mortality – which is also higher for Black women – when mothers were the same race as their doctor.

The stark differences in infant mortality are not the result of a biological difference but rather likely the legacy of structural racism, said study co-author Rachel Hardeman, a reproductive health equity researcher and associate professor at the University of Minnesota.

She cited one theory that suggests Black women are less healthy and at greater risk for negative health outcomes during pregnancy because of the cumulative effects of racism and socioeconomic disadvantage over the course of their lives.

Read the rest of this story here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/08/19/black-babies-more-...

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