The Impact of Racism on Children’s Health

Interesting study and observations, for parents and parents to be:

This month the American Academy of Pediatrics put out its first policy statement on how racism affects the health and development of children and adolescents.

“Racism is a significant social determinant of health clearly prevalent in our society now,” said Dr. Maria Trent, a professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was one of the co-authors of the statement.

Racism has an impact on children and families who are targeted, she said, but also on those who witness it. “We call it a socially transmitted disease: It’s taught, it’s passed down, but the impacts on children and families are significant from a health perspective,” said Dr. Trent, who is the chairwoman of the A.A.P. section on adolescent health. Social transmission makes sense here, because race itself is a social construct, she said: “Genetically, we’re very much the same.”

But the impact of bias on children’s health starts even before they’re born, Dr. Trent said. Persistent racial disparities in birth weight and maternal mortality in the United States today may in part reflect the deprivations of poverty, with less availability of good prenatal care, and poorer medical care in general for minority families, sometimes shaped by unacknowledged biases on the part of medical personnel. High rates of heart disease and hypertension also persist among African-Americans.