Black ExperienceHealth

Race a Factor in Hospital Care for Premature Babies: Study

Prematurely-born Black and Hispanic infants are more likely than White babies to be born at hospitals with worse death and complication rates, a new study found.

The study, conducted in New York City, focused on 7,177 infants delivered between the 24th and 31st weeks of pregnancy in 39 hospitals citywide. Approximately 28 percent of those babies died or experienced serious complications. However, in comparison to White infants, Black preemies were almost twice as likely to die or have severe health issues.

The odds were about 50 percent higher for Hispanic babies, with the disparities attributed partly to the fact that White children have a better chance of being born at hospitals that take better care of preemies, according to the study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

While babies delivered after 37 weeks are considered full term, the gestation period for normal pregnancies usually lasts abut 40 weeks.

“Nearly 40 percent of the Black-White disparity and nearly a third of the Hispanic-White disparity can be attributed to hospital of birth,” said Dr. Elizabeth Howell, director of the Women’s Health Research Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “Hospital quality is an important and modifiable cause of racial/ethnic disparities in neonatal outcomes.”

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