Black children are less likely than kids of other races to receive prescriptions for antibiotics when they visit the doctor, according to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics. More from the blog The Grio:
The findings are based on 1.3 million doctor visits with the same 222 providers, and were independent of age, gender or type of insurance.
This is not the first time research has shown racial biases among health professionals. A smaller study at the University of Washington, showed that unconscious racial biases affected the amount of pain medication given to black children when they needed it. And a Johns Hopkins study highlighted that primary physicians with unconscious racial biases tended to dominate conversations with black patients, ignore their social needs and exclude them from the decision-making process.
However, today's study is one of the few to look at its effects on respiratory infections and antibiotic use in children.
"Our goal has always been to find ways to improve antibiotic prescribing for children," says study author Dr. Jeffrey S. Gerber, who is also assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine's Division of Infectious Diseases.
"These analyses [then] revealed the differences in prescribing by race."
Although, what this study has uncovered may not be a negative. In the age of antibiotic overprescribing and the fear that unnecessary antibiotics later lead to "superbugs" that are too strong to treat, this may in fact be a good thing.
"Overprescribing of antibiotics to children with [respiratory tract infections] is common," Gerber says.
Image: Child at the doctor, via Shutterstock