Study Suggests Black Pregnant Women Undergo More Frequent Drug Testing Compared to Others - medtigo



Study Suggests Black Pregnant Women Undergo More Frequent Drug Testing Compared to Others

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Many pregnant women experience challenges, but Black women, in particular, suffer considerable barriers to receiving sufficient care. Recent research identified one of the challenges: excessive drug testing. The study found that regardless of their history of substance use, black women were more likely than white women to be tested for drugs during pregnancy.

The information comes from an examination of electronic medical records from a Pennsylvania healthcare organization. These findings are especially concerning because black women were less likely than white women to test positive for drugs.  

According to a new study in the JAMA Health Forum and published in The New York Times, hospitals in Pennsylvania were more likely to give drug tests to Black women giving birth than to White women, regardless of the mother’s drug use history. Researchers reviewed data from 37,860 Pennsylvania women who gave birth at a large hospital between March 2018 and June 2021.

High maternal mortality rates among Black and Native American women have recently been at the forefront of a national conversation about health disparities and structural racism in medicine, which is where this article comes in. A new study has called for examining whether hospital drug testing processes reflect racial stereotypes.  

While Black women were more likely than White women to be tested for drugs, they were less likely to test positive. Researchers assessed the chance of urine toxicological testing for various groups. They discovered that Black people, regardless of their history of drug use, had the highest likelihood of obtaining urine tests during delivery. Even if they have never taken drugs, black women are more likely to get tested for them.  

Federal and state regulations require drug testing in labor and delivery facilities to preserve the health and safety of women and their newborns. It is unknown what caused the Pennsylvania healthcare system to boost drug testing of Black women. The brief verbal screening assessment developed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse was adapted for all patients admitted to the labor and delivery ward.

According to the policy, patients with a positive screening test result, a history of substance use in the year preceding delivery, a low number of prenatal visits, or an unfavorable birth outcome without a clear medical cause will be forced to undergo urine toxicological testing.  

The findings are a “clear illustration of disparate care,” says Dr. Alison Stuebe, an obstetrics and gynecology professor at the University of North Carolina who was not involved in the study. The authors state that “this study is one example of how provider behavior causes Black women to distrust the health care system.” The study’s authors have recommended hospitals reconsider their drug testing practices in light of the racial discrepancies they discovered. 


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