Michigan State University Study Reveals Minority Children Die at Higher Rates

Michigan State University Study Reveals Minority Children Die at Higher Rates

Two Michigan State University and Spectrum Health researchers have uncovered that Black and Hispanic children admitted to pediatric intensive care units for cancer treatment die at increasingly higher rates than do Caucasian children.

Study Background

Titled “Racial/Ethnic Minority Children with Cancer Experience Higher Mortality on Admission to the ICU in the United States” recently published in the Journal of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine was based on the data gleaned from a national Virtual Pediatric Systems databases covering 12,232 patients and 23,128 intensive care admissions between 2009 and 2018.

Social Determinants of Health

Researchers Rajasekaran and Laurens suspect that genetic and environmental factors may play some role in the results the researchers suspect that social determinants of health, from poverty and lack of access to primary care and access to healthy food could play a key contributing role. About 21% of all U.S. children live in poverty, and the rates for African American and Latin youth are two to three times higher.

Access, or lack thereof, represents a fundamental challenge as children likely are in more advanced stages of cancer or critical illness by the time they are admitted to pediatric intensive care units. Such disparities are becoming more extreme. Such differences become more pronounced in the era of COVID-19.

Regional Differences

Additionally, the study revealed that in the Western States Hispanic children die at higher rates while in the Southern dates African Americans face a similar trend. Interestingly, in the Midwest and Northeast, the study found no statistically significant difference in death rates among the racial and ethnic groups.

Other Therapeutic Areas

Similar trends are observed with certain diseases—such as pulmonary diseases among Hispanics and sepsis among African Americans.

Lead Research/Investigator

Surender Rajasekaran, MD, PhD physician, assistant professor, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, senior author

Mara Leimanis Laurens, PhD, research scientists, DeVos Children’s Hospital, College of Human Medicine adjunct professor, co-author