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Black children more than three times more likely to die after surgery

Research has repeatedly shown that Black patients have worse health outcomes—including higher risk of postsurgical complications—compared with their white counterparts. That higher postoperative risk has been attributed to the fact that Black people are more likely to have other health issues such as diabetes and lung conditions when they go into surgery, putting them at higher risk afterward. But a large analysis has found the higher risk holds even when comparing surgeries in healthy children, Scientific American reports. Researchers analyzed data from 172,549 surgeries across 186 medical centers in the United States between 2012 and 2017, focusing exclusively on children scored as “healthy” by their doctors. The results, published this month in Pediatrics, show that Black children were 18% more likely to face complications like sepsis or severe bleeding, and 3.43 times more likely to die, compared with white children. Future research will need to explore the precise reasons for the gap, and how to close it, the team says.

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