african american preemie

Well, this is concerning. An article in JAMA Pediatrics says that very preterm and low-weight black infants are “… concentrated at NICUs with lower-quality scores,” according to a study. (I first saw this on The Grio). “NICU,” by the way, stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It’s the place they care for babies who are at risk due to birth circumstances.

It’s no secret that in poor areas, pretty much all public services, whether it’s education or transportation or health care, are worse than in more affluent areas. But that doesn’t mean it should be that way. “These inequalities perpetuate the social and economic injustices of structural racism and contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes,” the report’s authors state.

“Structural racism” is a phrase that white readers of this may be shocked to see. They may insist isn’t real anymore. I would argue that although it isn’t legal anymore, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Studies like this make the case that it still does.

The heartbreaking thing is that the problem only begins at birth; poor healthcare as an infant can have a lifelong impact on that child for the rest of his or her life.

One point worth bringing out from the report: “The relationship between segregation and the quality of care received by high-risk infants has not been studied on a national scale, to our knowledge.” This tells me that we need to do more studies of this kind, to get more information. Then the problem can be tackled more effectively.