US pediatricians' group moves to abandon race-based guidance

The American Academy of Pediatrics says it is putting all its guidance under the microscope to eliminate “race-based” medicine and resulting health disparities

Via AP news wire
Monday 02 May 2022 05:08
Pediatricians Race
Pediatricians Race

For years, pediatricians have followed flawed guidelines linking race to risks for urinary infections and newborn jaundice. In a new policy announced Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics said it is putting all its guidance under the microscope to eliminate “race-based” medicine and resulting health disparities.

A re-examination of AAP treatment recommendations that began before George Floyd’s 2020 death and intensified after it has doctors concerned that Black youngsters have been undertreated and overlooked, said Dr. Joseph Wright, lead author of the new policy and chief health equity officer at the University of Maryland's medical system.

The influential academy has begun purging outdated advice. It is committing to scrutinizing its “entire catalog,” including guidelines, educational materials, textbooks and newsletter articles, Wright said.

“We are really being much more rigorous about the ways in which we assess risk for disease and health outcomes," Wright said. “We do have to hold ourselves accountable in that way. It’s going to require a heavy lift."

Dr. Brittani James, a family medicine doctor and medical director for a Chicago health center, said the academy is making a pivotal move.

“What makes this so monumental is the fact that this is a medical institution and it’s not just words. They’re acting," James said.

In recent years, other major doctor groups including the American Medical Association have made similar pledges. They are spurred in part by civil rights and social justice movements, but also by science showing the strong roles that social conditions, genetics and other biological factors play in determining health.

Last year, the academy retired a guideline calculation based on the unproven idea that Black children faced lower risks than white kids for urinary infections. A review had shown that the strongest risk factors were prior urinary infections and fevers lasting more than 48 hours, not race, Wright said.

A revision to its newborn jaundice guidance — which currently suggests certain races have higher and lower risks — is planned for this summer, Wright said.

Dr. Nia Heard-Garris, head of an academy group on minority health and equity and a pediatrician at Chicago’s Lurie Children’s Hospital, noted that the new policy includes a brief history “of how some of our frequently used clinical aids have come to be — via pseudoscience and racism.”

Whatever the intent, these aids have harmed patients, she said.

“This violates our oath as physicians — to do no harm — and as such should not be used,″ Heard-Garris said.

Dr. Valerie Walker, a specialist in newborn care and health equity at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, called the new policy “a critical step” toward reducing racial health disparities.

The academy is urging other medical institutions and specialty groups to take a similar approach in working to eliminate racism in medicine.

"We can’t just plug up one leak in a pipe full of holes and expect it to be remedied," said Heard-Garris. “This statement shines a light for pediatricians and other healthcare providers to find and patch those holes.”

___

Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in