Study Examines Racial Segregation, Inequality of Care in NICUs

Bottom Line: This observational study looked at the extent of racial segregation and inequality of care for very low-birth-weight and very preterm infants at neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) across the United States. Nearly 118,000 black, Hispanic, Asian and white infants (born at 401 grams to 1,500 grams or 22 to 29 weeks’ gestation) were included in the study that defined two indices: one for segregation (uneven distribution of racial or ethnic groups across NICUs) and one for inequality (concentration of racial or ethnic groups in lower-quality NICUs). Explaining the study findings involves understanding sociodemographic factors along with hospital quality, access and choice for minority women and their babies.

Authors: Erika M. Edwards, Ph.D., of the Vermont Oxford Network, Burlington, Vermont, and coauthors