COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A new study has found there are racial and ethnic disparities in medical care for the nation’s premature babies.
Published Thursday by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and the College of Medicine, the study followed 60,000 babies born in the periviable period — the 22 to 25 week and six days gestational period.
It found babies born to Black, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander mothers were significantly less likely to receive active treatment compared to white mothers. Active treatment can consist of oxygen or ventilator treatments and antibiotic therapy.
Specifically, 57% of babies with white mothers received active treatment, compared to 51% of babies with Black mothers, 48% of babies with Hispanic mothers and 46% of babies with Asian/Pacific Islander mothers.
“So this is a really challenging conversation for families and patients and their providers and, in that setting, to really understand this is where a lot of complications occur in the neonatal period as babies really born at the cusp of viability,” said Dr. Kartik Venkatesh, Asst. Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Epidemiology. “And that more than half of these deliveries are occurring in minority populations as well. So for example, over 30% alone are occurring in black women. So this is disproportionately a problem that also affects minority communities.”
The authors of the study noted while disparities were found, the rate of medical intervention in younger preemies has significantly increased from 2014 to 2020.