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A new report highlights the ways in which Black children in America are affected by medical racism. Research published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that Black newborn babies are more likely to survive childbirth if they are cared for by Black doctors, but three times more likely to die when attended to by white doctors, USA Today reports.

Researchers from George Mason University looked at data capturing 1.8 million hospital births in Florida between 1992 and 2015 and they found that the mortality rate of Black newborns shrunk by between 39 percent and 58 percent when Black physicians oversaw the birth. Data showed that white newborns were largely unaffected by the physicians race.

“Strikingly, these effects appear to manifest more strongly in more complicated cases, and when hospitals deliver more Black newborns,” the authors wrote. “The findings suggest that Black physicians outperform their White colleagues when caring for Black newborns.””
“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 researchers added.
The data is startling, but alludes to past research highlighting infant mortality rates. Black infants die 2.3 times the infant mortality rate as white babies, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health.
And unfortunately, the rate also stands in alignment with Black women and maternal mortality, where Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women.
It cannot be overstated that sexism, pay inequity and structural racism often lead to severe health outcomes for Black women and their babies. Which often leads to food insecurity and lack of access to basic health preventive measures.
The long standing issue is compounded, highlighting the need for educating physicians on how to care for Black communities of color, as well as encouraging the education of Black physicians who have ingrained understandings of the unique challenges those communities face.
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