Health News Roundup

The impacts of racism on Black adolescents, and more in this week’s roundup

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Racism can spark depression and anxiety in Black adolescents, study finds
Lizette Ortega, The Washington Post, June 14
Racial discrimination can put Black adolescents at a higher risk of depression and anxiety, according to a study that sheds light on the long-term impact of racism. “This study is showing that some brain patterns that are trying to process threats … can help [participants] cope with these types of experiences, but there might be an emotional toll,” said Assaf Oshri, lead author of the study. Study authors hope the findings can potentially improve the resources designed to help Black adolescents cope with racism.

The disturbing truth about hair relaxers
Linda Villarosa, The New York Times Magazine, June 13
Recent scientific evidence shows that hair relaxers and other products marketed to Black girls and women have been linked to endocrine-disrupting substances associated with the early onset of menstruation and many of the reproductive-health issues that follow. A 2022 study found that those who frequently used chemical hair-straightening products, a majority of whom were Black women, were two and a half times as likely to develop uterine cancer as those who did not use the products. However, these hair products are still on the market with little oversight, even with mounting evidence of the harm they can cause.

Half of U.S. military bases have a health care shortage
Quil Lawrence and Brent Jones, NPR, June 17
Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and their families live within federally designated health professional shortage areas, also known as “health care deserts.” An analysis looked at counties designated as shortage areas for primary care, mental health care and maternity care nationwide. Excluding National Guard installations, half of U.S. bases landed within at least one desert. Surveys show that health care is a growing concern for military families. “It’s incumbent on the military to make sure that when you send a family to a location, the support and resources are available to take care of them. And that obviously includes health care,” said Eileen Huck, of the National Military Family Association.

Connecticut establishes new bureau for deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing services
Bria Lloyd, Connecticut Public Radio, June 11
Connecticut is set to launch a new bureau for deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing services. The bureau will provide referrals and coordinate trainings for interpreters, state employees, and the public. Members of the deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing community have experienced a gap in services since a similar office closed in 2016. Advocates said they have had difficulty finding sign language interpreters and other services, especially in the health care setting. “There has been widespread frustration from individuals who have reached out to their reps,” said Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives Matt Ritter. “And I think it got louder over the last year.”

Black mothers in CT face more risks during labor and delivery
José Luis Martínez, The Connecticut Mirror, June 7
Data from the Connecticut Maternal Mortality Review Committee shows that Black residents face higher rates of maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity. From 2015-2020 there were an average of five pregnancy-related deaths per year. Black residents were the only racial group to be overrepresented, making up 19% of deaths in that time period, a share higher than their makeup of all live births. The state trend mirrors national trends, which show that Black women in the United States have the highest maternal mortality rate in the world.