Rachel Hardeman has dedicated her career to fighting racism and the harm it has inflicted on the health of Black Americans. As a reproductive health equity researcher, she has been especially disturbed by the disproportionately high mortality rates for Black babies.
In an effort to find some of the reasons behind the high death rates, Hardeman, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and three other researchers combed through the records of 1.8 million Florida hospital births between 1992 and 2015 looking for clues.
They found a tantalising statistic. Although Black newborns are three times as likely to die as White newborns, when Black babies are delivered by Black doctors, their mortality rate is cut in half.
"Strikingly, these effects appear to manifest more strongly in more complicated cases," the researchers wrote, "and when hospitals deliver more Black newborns." They found no similar relationship between White doctors and White births. Nor did they find a difference in maternal death rates when the doctor's race was the same as the patient's.
Source: The Washington Post, 9 January 2021