© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
To contact us with news tips, story ideas or other related information, e-mail newsstaff@ideastream.org.

Study: Systemic racism plays key role in Black children's re-admission rate for asthma & diabetes

 Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Endrocrinologist Dr. Nana-Hawa Yayah-Jones sees a patient. [Natalie Jenkins Photo /  Cincinnati Children's]
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Endrocrinologist Dr. Nana-Hawa Yayah-Jones sees a patient.

Two independent studies at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center came to the same conclusion: that systemic racism plays a key role into why Black kids have a much higher rate of re-admission for asthma and Type 1 diabetes.

Geneticist Tesfaye Mersha, Ph.D. looked at data from 700 asthma patients and discovered 80% of the 134 children re-admitted within a year were Black.

Cincinnati Children's Geneticist Tesfaye Mersha, PhD, studied the disparities between blacks and white kids for asthma. [Tesfaye Mersha]

Even though genetic factors do play a role, he says they can’t account for this high an average. “Racism, I would say, is making this big difference in terms of current health care access and all the other things mentioned in our publication,” says Mersha. His research is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Mersha determined there are more than two dozen socio-environmental factors at play, including how far the patient lives from a highway and whether their family has a car.

Systemic racism also driving up complications from diabetes

Dr. Nana-Hawa Yayah Jones says there is no difference in the way she treats her patients, yet at Cincinnati Children’s, 400 kids with Type 1 diabetes were admitted to the hospital to treat a dangerous complication known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Black children made up 41% of the admissions even though they were just 25% of Children’s population.

Her study was published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, August 18, 2021.

“We found that if you lived in high poverty areas, you identified as Black, or you had public insurance, each was associated with a higher risk of hospitalization for DKA even when we adjusted it,” says Yayah Jones.

She thinks there isn’t a single disease that hasn’t been touched by inequity.

Children’s Hospital recognizes that and has established a health equity network to identify where gaps exists and targets for intervention.

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.