Health News Roundup

Labs remove race from kidney disease diagnosis, and more in this week’s roundup

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One-third of U.S. labs have stopped using race-based equations to diagnose kidney disease
Brittany Trang, STAT, Nov. 22
For decades, health care providers have diagnosed kidney disease with blood tests that use a race-based equation. In 2021, an expert panel recommended a retooled equation that leaves out race. Based on new survey results, a third of laboratories surveyed had already adopted the equation. Of the labs that hadn’t switched, 32% planned on switching to the new equation by the end of the year. The results add to a growing movement in medicine that argues that race-based equations aren’t accurate and can be actively harmful.

‘Constant calls’ but ‘no place to go’: Connecticut’s 211 can’t keep up with increased demand for housing aid
Alison Cross, Hartford Courant, Nov. 21
The 211 hotline for housing and shelter requests has received more than 334,000 calls this year, an increase of nearly 27% from the same period in 2021. Current wait times can exceed an hour, compounded by the fact that 211 cannot always connect callers to needed services. The result is some callers feeling frustrated, disillusioned, and abandoned by the system.

Racial disparities in lung cancer start with research
Melba Newsome, Kaiser Health News, Nov. 30
Although it is well documented that Black smokers develop lung cancer at younger ages than white smokers even when they smoke fewer cigarettes, the guidelines that doctors use to recommend patients for screening have been slow to reflect the disparity. Researchers are concerned about the lack of diverse representation in clinical studies on which the screening recommendations are based. In addition, access to health coverage and awareness about screening also play a role in the racial disparities in early detection.

Too many Black babies are dying. Birth workers in Kansas fight to keep them alive
Rose Conlon, NPR, Nov. 17
Across the U.S., the mortality rate for Black babies is more than double that for white babies. Birth workers like Peggy Jones-Foxx are actively trying to combat these disparities by providing coaching on how to stay healthy during pregnancies. Many non-profit organizations are recognizing the need for a community-driven approach and working to assure that Black families have access to educational resources, basic needs, lactation consultants, and doula services.

Why doesn’t the U.S. have more Black doctors? 
Brittany Trang, STAT, Nov. 16
Despite the growing number of seats in medical schools, the number of Black men accepted to medical school declined between 1978 and 2014. Both Alden Landry and LaShyra Nolen of Harvard Medical School point to systemic factors – like public education and generational wealth – that continue to limit Black students’ opportunities to pursue careers in medicine.