Preterm infants' health outcomes differ by race, study finds

Black and Hispanic preterm infants are more likely to die or experience serious complications than white babies, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics.

For the study, researchers from the Mount Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine in New York City analyzed data for 7,177 preterm infants born at 39 local hospitals between 2010 and 2014. Researchers focused on infants born between 24 to 31 weeks' gestation.

Here are four study findings.

1. Twenty-eight percent of infants died or experienced serious complications during the study period.

2. About 34 percent of Hispanic preemies and 43 percent of black preemies were born at hospitals with the highest mortality and complication rates. Only 23 percent of white preemies were born at these hospitals.

3. Black preemies were nearly twice as likely as white babies to die or have serious health issues. Hispanic infants were 50 percent more likely to die or experience serious complications.

4. Researchers suggest this disparity may be linked to the fact that white babies are more likely to be born at hospitals with better care services for preemies.

"Nearly 40 percent of the black-white disparity and nearly a third of the Hispanic-white disparity can be attributed to hospital of birth," Elizabeth Howell, MD, told Reuters via email. "Hospital quality is an important and modifiable cause of racial/ethnic disparities in neonatal outcomes."

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