Health News Roundup

Addressing girls’ mental health, diversifying the health care workforce, and more in this week’s roundup

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Why doesn’t the U.S. have more Black midwives?
Annalisa Merelli, STAT, Sept. 18
Experts say expanding the midwife workforce in the U.S. is one way to address maternal mortality. The number of credentialed midwives has grown in recent decades, but the workforce remains small and racially homogenous: More than 90% of midwives are white. Because racially concordant care is associated with better outcomes, increasing diversity in the midwife cohort is an important component of reducing maternal mortality. But it’s not a simple task, with challenges including the high costs of midwifery education and the difficulty of finding training placement opportunities.

Patients need doctors who look like them. Can medicine diversify without affirmative action?
Kat Stafford, Associated Press, Sept. 11
Black Americans represent 13% of the U.S. population, but just 6% of U.S. physicians. Experts say increasing representation among doctors could help disrupt health inequities, and that diversity is especially needed within specialty medicine. In dermatology, just 65 of the 796 applicants for residencies in 2020 were Black, and only 39 were Latino. New restrictions on affirmative action have led those seeking to diversify the workforce to look for other strategies.

New generation of researchers unravel ‘Hispanic Paradox’
Usha Lee McFarling, STAT, Sept. 14
For 40 years, researchers have unsuccessfully tried to explain — or debunk — the “Hispanic Paradox,” the finding that Hispanic Americans live several years longer than white Americans on average, despite having less income and health care and higher rates of diabetes and obesity. Now, a new generation of scientists is making headway. Among their findings: Living longer does not mean living healthier. Lumping together people from places as varied as Brazil, Mexico, and Puerto Rico conceals important health risks. And healthy Hispanics who immigrate to the U.S. tend to get sicker the longer they stay.

Girls Are in a Mental Health Crisis. What Can Schools Do?
Ryan Levi, Tradeoffs, Sept. 14
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2021, almost 60% of high school girls in the U.S. felt persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, nearly 20% had experienced sexual violence, and 25% had made a suicide plan. Clinicians, educators and policymakers around the country are racing for solutions. A recent study suggests that the Chicago-based Working on Womanhood program could be a model to help girls throughout the U.S. — especially girls of color — cope with the trauma and distress many face.