(Dóra Kisteleki for The Washington Post)
They found a tantalizing statistic. Although Black newborns are three times as likely to die as White newborns, when Black babies are delivered by Black doctors, their mortality rate is cut in half.
“Strikingly, these effects appear to manifest more strongly in more complicated cases,” the researchers wrote, “and when hospitals deliver more Black newborns.” They found no similar relationship between White doctors and White births. Nor did they find a difference in maternal death rates when the doctor’s race was the same as the patient’s.
“It is the first empirical evidence to describe the impact of the physician’s race on an outcome such as infant mortality,” Hardeman says.
With 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, the United States has a high infant mortality rate, and Black babies are in the gravest danger, with an infant mortality rate in 2018 of 10.8 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to a rate of 4.6 White babies per 1,000 live births.