The American Academy of Pediatrics is “committing to scrutinizing its ‘entire catalog,’ including guidelines, educational materials, textbooks and newsletter articles” in order to “abandon race-based guidance,” reports the Associated Press.
The AP reports that “for years” pediatricians have followed flawed guidelines “linking race to risks for urinary infections and newborn jaundice.” The Academy announced its new policy Monday, saying it will put all guidance under the microscope to eliminate “race-based” medicine and resulting health disparities.
The Academy says it is purging outdated advice and is committed to scrutinizing its “entire catalog” such as guidelines, educational materials, textbooks and newsletter articles, said Dr. Joseph Wright, lead author of the new policy and chief health equity officer at the University of Maryland’s medical system.
The AP writes the Academy’s decision began before George Floyd was killed in 2020, which intensified doctors’ concerns “that Black youngsters have been undertreated and overlooked” , said Wright.
Specifically, a revision to its newborn jaundice guidance which currently suggests certain races have higher or lower risks, is planned for this summer, said Wright. “Last year, the academy retired a guideline calculation based on the unproven idea that Black children faced lower risks that white kids for urinary infections” reports the AP. “A review had shown that the strongest risk factors were prior urinary infections and fevers lasting more than 48 hours, not race, Wright 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.
Dr. Valerie Walker, a specialist in newborn care and health equity at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, called the policy “a critical step” toward reducing racial health disparities.”
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