Black Babies Screened More Often For Drug Exposure

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – African-American newborns may be more likely than their white counterparts to be screened for prenatal drug exposure, even in the absence of risk factors for it, a study at one medical center suggests.

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Research shows that newborns admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) have a higher-than-average risk of having been exposed to illegal drugs during pregnancy. If staff suspect prenatal drug exposure, they may test an infant’s urine or feces for evidence of it.

Some NICUs, though not all, have specific guidelines on what factors should trigger a newborn drug test.

The new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, shows that even at a center with such guidelines, there are racial discrepancies in rates of drug screening.

The study team examined medical records for more than 2,100 newborns admitted to the NICU at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York in 2005 and 2006.

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