Friday, December 20th, 2013
A new study of African American men has linked hypertension, or high blood pressure, with whether the men grew up in single parent or dual parent households. More from The New York Times:
Researchers studied 515 black men older than 20 between 2001 and 2008. More than half of the men had high blood pressure and about one-third never lived with both parents.
After adjusting for age, family history of hypertension and other variables, they found that compared with men who never lived with both parents, men who had lived with both parents at any time in their lives had an average systolic blood pressure that was 4.9 millimeters of mercury lower. Among those who had lived with both parents for between one and 12 years, the average was 6.5 millimeters of mercury lower.
The authors acknowledge that living with both parents may be connected to higher socioeconomic status, which could influence blood pressure, and that the study can draw no conclusions about causality.
Still, the lead author, Debbie S. Barrington, a senior research fellow at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, said it is a provocative finding. “The magnitude of the effect is very large,” she said, “even stronger than the effect of certain blood pressure medications.”
Image: Mother and child, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, March 21st, 2013
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
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Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
An unarmed Florida teenager who was shot and killed by a man doing a Neighborhood Watch patrol has become a symbol of the perseverance of racial profiling in the U.S. Seventeen year-old Trayvon Martin, who was African American, was killed by volunteer George Zimmerman as Martin walked from a convenience store to a friend’s home. Zimmerman called the police to report his suspicions of Martin, but the police reportedly told him to stop following Martin. Moments later, the 911 call records the fatal shot being fired.
According to NPR.org, Zimmerman is claiming that he acted in self-defense after he and Martin got into an argument. But the story has garnered national attention because of the racial profiling allegedly at play. From NPR:
At the Orlando Sentinel, which has extensive coverage, there’s a story that notes how — beyond the issue of profiling — “if George Zimmerman didn’t break every rule in the book when it comes to Neighborhood Watch programs, he came close. … Zimmerman was armed. He was alone. And while waiting for police, he somehow got into a fight with the person he thought suspicious. All three of those actions are strongly discouraged by the National Sheriffs’ Association, which oversees about 20,000 Neighborhood Watch programs.”
Zimmerman, 28, has not been charged with a crime. According to The Associated Press, “in the months leading up to the shooting, [he] had called police numerous times to report incidents.”
Trayvon’s parents have put an online petition on Change.org, looking for support in their call for Zimmerman to be charged.
Image: Neighborhood watch sign, via Shutterstock.
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