News / Health

Death Rates Higher in Non-White American Children

New study finds wide disparity in illness and death among children of different races

A new study finds racial and ethnic disparities in children's health are pervasive in the United States.
A new study finds racial and ethnic disparities in children's health are pervasive in the United States.

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Philip Graitcer

Asian, African-American, Hispanic, and Native American children in the United States have higher rates of death and more illness compared to their white classmates.

That's the finding in a new study that analyzed data from more than 750 published studies conducted over the past 50 years on children's health and health care disparities.

"Racial and ethnic disparities in children's health are quite extensive, pervasive and persistent," says Dr. Glenn Flores, a pediatrician at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the report's lead author.

Disparity in all areas of health

Flores says these differences between minority kids and Caucasians were noted across the spectrum of health and health care, including mortality, access to care and use of services, prevention, population health, health status, adolescent health, chronic diseases, special health care needs and organ transplantation.

In addition, the study revealed that minority children had a higher incidence of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, asthma, certain cancers, and lower success rates for treatment of kidney and heart diseases.

These differences led to disproportionate death rates. "Mortality disparities were noted for all four major U.S. racial and ethnic minorities groups," says Flores.

What was particularly disconcerting to Flores was that even when studies were adjusted for such things as income, the differences remained.

Recognizing disparity as a problem

The pediatrician says the explanation for these differences is not apparent because clear and consistent data are not available.

"Optimal health and health care for all children will require recognition of disparities as pervasive problems, methodological sound disparity studies, and rigorous evaluation of disparities intervention," he says.

Flores' study appears in the April issue of the journal Pediatrics.

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