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US pediatricians’ group moves to abandon race-based guidance



For years, pediatricians have adopted mistaken pointers linking race to dangers for urinary infections and new child jaundice. In a brand new coverage introduced Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics mentioned it’s striking all its steering beneath the microscope to get rid of “race-based” drugs and ensuing well being disparities.

A re-assessment of AAP remedy suggestions that started prior to George Floyd’s 2020 loss of life and intensified after it has docs involved that Black children were undertreated and lost sight of, mentioned Dr. Joseph Wright, lead writer of the brand new coverage and leader well being fairness officer on the University of Maryland’s scientific gadget.

The influential academy has begun purging old-fashioned recommendation. It is committing to scrutinizing its “entire catalog,” together with pointers, instructional fabrics, textbooks and e-newsletter articles, Wright mentioned.

“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.”

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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.

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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” towards decreasing racial well being 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 simply plug up one leak in a pipe stuffed with holes and be expecting it to be remedied,” said Heard-Garris. “This statement shines a light for pediatricians and other healthcare providers to find and patch those holes.”

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Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.

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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.

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