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Black newborns have a higher mortality rate when in care of White doctors

By: April Carson

A study 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 looked after by White doctors. The study's authors say the findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, offer insights into why minorities are at greater risk of poor health outcomes.

New research has shown that the mortality rate of Black newborns in hospital dramatically decreases when Black physicians are put in charge of the birth. This study highlights how severe racial disparities in human health can be, even affecting something as seemingly simple as a person's birth.

In comparison, the mortality rate for White babies was largely unchanged by the ethnicity of their doctor.

These findings verify other research indicating that, while infant mortality rates have lowered in past years, Black children are still more likely to die at a young age than White infants.

This study provides further evidence that systemic racism exists within the medical system and can have deadly consequences. It is crucial that these disparities are addressed in order to ensure that all patients receive quality care.

The new study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), analyzed data from 1.8 million hospital births in Florida that occurred between 1992 and 2015. The researchers who conducted the study are affiliated with George Mason University.

The researchers found that when Black newborns were cared for by White physicians, they were about three times more likely to die in the hospital than white infants who had White doctors. While this disparity did drop significantly when the doctor was black, Black newborns still remained more likely to die than their white counterparts.

According to the study, one possible reason for this discrepancy is that White doctors may have less experience caring for Black patients. The study notes that “White physicians treat a smaller proportion of black patients than white patients,” and that “black patients are more likely to be treated by physicians in lower-quality hospitals.”

“This is the first study that suggests Black-White newborn mortality gap lessens when Black MDs provide care forBlack newborns as opposed to White MDs,” co-author Rachel Hardeman said. “Racial concordance is integral in addressing health care inequities,” she continued on Twitter.

It is well past time that we take action to improve the health and wellbeing of Black infants. Data has shown for far too long that Black babies are dying at disproportionate rates, and it is high time we change this. We must do everything in our power to ensure that all Black infants have the opportunity to thrive.

It is encouraging to see that this study provides some hope that by having Black doctors provide care for Black newborns, we can help to close the mortality gap. This is just one step in the right direction, but it is an important one. We must continue to work together to improve the health and wellbeing of all Black infants, so that they can have the bright future they deserve.

As stated by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, Black infants have 2.3 times the infant mortality rate as White infants. This is a heartbreaking statistic, and one that we must work together to change.

A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which covered the period between 2000 to 2017 and was published in June, found that Black infants still have more than twice the risk of dying as White infants.

The authors wrote that, "strikingly," these effects appear to be more prominent in complex cases and when hospitals deliver a higher number of black newborns. They suggest that black physicians usually outperform their white colleagues when caring for black newborns.

The reasons behind the trend were not explored, but it was noted that “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.”

The researchers continued, saying that reducing racial disparities in newborn mortality will rely on elevating awareness among physicians, nurses, and hospital administrators about how often these disparities appear.

“Our findings point to a need for interventions aimed at reducing disparities in neonatal care,” the study authors wrote. “These might include educational programs targeted at residents and medical students that increase awareness of physician bias and its potential effects on black patients.”

Additionally, the researchers point to a need for more research on the connection between disparities in care and institutional racism.

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About the Blogger:

April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav



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