Race May Impact Clinician's Infant Drug Screening Choices

Babies born to black mothers may be more likely to undergo screening than those born to white moms
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Health care providers may be impacted by maternal race in determining whether to screen for illicit drug exposure in infants, regardless of their institution's standard criteria for screening, according to a study published online May 17 in Pediatrics.

Marc A. Ellsworth and colleagues at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York evaluated electronic medical records of 2,121 newborn infants and their mothers to determine which pairs met standard criteria for screening infants for prenatal exposure to illicit drugs in their institution's neonatal intensive care unit. They then determined the predictors of whether an infant would undergo screening.

The researchers found that infants born to black mothers were more likely to have screening performed than those born to white mothers, whether they met screening criteria (35.1 versus 12.9 percent) or not (5.3 versus 1.2 percent). In addition, when the researchers controlled for standard screening criteria, income, insurance status, and maternal education in a logistic regression analysis, black race was still independently associated with screening.

"We found that at our institution many infants who met specified criteria were not being screened and that differences in screening decisions made by providers were associated with maternal race," the authors write.

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