Health News Roundup

How maternal health aid misses those most at risk, and more in this week’s roundup

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Supreme Court strikes down use of affirmative action, a blow to efforts to diversify medical schools 
Usha Lee McFarling, STAT, June 29
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the use of affirmative action in university admissions comes as a blow to many in the field of medicine, which has been unable to appreciably increase the numbers of Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous doctors in recent decades. Medical school leaders have said such a ruling would harm efforts to mitigate the country’s massive racial and ethnic health disparities. Medical schools will now likely need to turn to alternative strategies, such as class-based admission, or a focus on students from disadvantaged neighborhoods, to continue to diversify the ranks of their students.

Black, rural southern women at gravest risk from pregnancy miss out on maternal health aid
Sarah Jane Tribble, KFF Health News, June 22
As maternal mortality skyrockets, a federal program created to improve rural maternity care has bypassed Black mothers, who are at the highest risk of complications and death related to pregnancy. Experts say the program’s failure to reach predominantly Black communities in the rural South reveals structural inequities and underinvestment in a region where health care resources are scarce.
Related: Pregnancy-related death, like Tori Bowie’s, is a far too common occurrence among Black women, Omari Jimmerson, STAT, June 21

A replacement for race: Medical experts explore how to eliminate bias in clinical algorithms 
Lizzy Lawrence and Katie Palmer, STAT, June 28
Most of the medical community has acknowledged that racism is baked into many of its clinical tools: pulse oximeters and kidney function calculators are prime examples. But physicians are divided on when to remove race from calculators and algorithms — and what characteristics should replace it. Experts acknowledged that medicine can’t yet remove race completely from clinical practice — largely because racism creates different, worse health outcomes for patients of color that have to be taken into account.

Black former NFL players more burdened by chronic pain than white counterparts, study finds
Isabella Cueto, STAT, June 15
Among former NFL players, Black athletes report worse and more disruptive chronic pain than white players, according to a new study. The analysis controlled for seasons of play, field position, self-reported concussion symptoms during active play, body mass index, and current use of pain medications. Data showed race-related health disparities existed even among these elite professional athletes who had access to top-of-the-line health care and other resources during their careers.

‘Falling through the cracks’: Why ADHD is under-diagnosed among Asian Americans
Olivia Goldhill, STAT, June 19
Medical knowledge of ADHD has advanced rapidly over the past decade, taking it from a label applied to unruly schoolboys and a shorthand for misbehavior, to a condition recognized as a neurodevelopmental disorder with biological underpinnings. Amid that change, though, people of color have too often been left behind. In 2021, research showed that for every 100 white children diagnosed with ADHD, there are 83 Black and 77 Hispanic children, and just 48 Asian children, with the diagnosis. Experts describe a dearth of research and outreach in Asian American communities, or even conversation, aimed at narrowing this gap.