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Study Finds Wide Health Disparities in CT

Black and Hispanic children in Connecticut are far more likely to go to emergency rooms because of asthma than their white peers. (LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe Stock)
Black and Hispanic children in Connecticut are far more likely to go to emergency rooms because of asthma than their white peers. (LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe Stock)
January 17, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut is often cited as one of the healthiest states in the nation, but a new report finds large gaps in health between white residents and people of color.

The report from the Connecticut Health Foundation shows that children and teens of color are far more likely to go to emergency rooms for asthma than white children, and black adults are twice as likely to die from complications of diabetes.

But according to Patricia Baker, President and CEO of the foundation, infant mortality is one of the starkest examples of racial and ethnic disparity.

"A baby born to a black mother in Connecticut is more than four times likely to die before its first birthday," says Baker. "That disparity is one of the biggest in the country."

The report says much of the discrepancy is the result of gaps in income, education and access to health care, although Baker says different approaches to treatment and persistent racism also are factors.

Baker points out that college-educated black women are still more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women.

"There is a physiological stress that happens due to constant discrimination and racism that people of color face," says Baker.

She notes that disparate medical treatment and structural racism must be addressed, as well as social factors, such as income inequality and educational opportunity.

Among the report's recommendations are improving data collection to reveal the scope of health discrepancies and improving access to affordable health insurance.

Baker adds that making health care more accessible would make a real difference.

"If we invest in community health workers, it has been found they can have an important return on investment, with improved health outcomes and reduced cost," says Baker.

The full report is online at 'CTHealth.org.'

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT