Dr. Linda Burke shares the heartbreaking story on her website – The Smart Mother’s Guide – how Dr. Chaniece Wallace died in 2020 from complications due to childbirth (preeclampsia-related issues). Amber Rose, Kia Dixon Johnson, Sha-Asia Washington and countless other Black women have also died in childbirth.
The unnecessary death of Black women in childbirth is rising. The overall U.S. maternal mortality rate has been increasing, but the data behind the African American community paints an even more devastating picture. Last year, the CDC and an October 2022 GAO report that the Black Maternal Mortality Rate in 2021 was 68.9 deaths per 100,000 (approximately 2,480 women) compared to 26.1 per 100,000 (about 940 women) for white women. Health and Human Services officials and stakeholders said the pandemic worsened factors contributing to maternal health disparities, like access to care.
Additionally, disparities in other adverse outcomes, such as preterm and low birthweight births, persisted for Black or African-American (not Hispanic or Latina) women, according to GAO analysis of CDC data. Black patients often complain that their concerns are not heard nor respected when being seen by a doctor outside of their race, creating a divide between the doctor-patient relationship and ultimately preventing the best possible care.
To affect change, Dr. Linda Burke and an online group of 748+ Black ob-gyn female physicians rallied, but attempts to obtain seats on professional decision-making committees proved futile, leading Dr. Burke to create WHYS (We Hear You, Sister!). WHYS is a resource that would address the challenges patients face in connecting with a doctor they could relate to and bring a more positive outcome to some doctor-patient exchanges.
WHYS is a growing online database and community of 124+ passionate ob-gyn physicians who practice across 29 states in the US, where 88% are board-certified. So far, Texas has about 17 doctors on the list women can contact and none so far from San Antonio.
“Countless Black lives could be saved if women of color knew where to find an ob-gyn that could better understand their challenges,” states Dr. Burke, who has been moved by many stories shared by her colleagues about the uphill battle. “The ability to use my network to build this resource in an attempt to make a difference in the lives of others drives me daily and my greatest hope is that WHYS grows to be a trusted community for all in need.”
WHYS officially launches in February 2023, celebrating Black History Month and Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler’s birthday. Dr. Crumpler was the first Black woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. She battled deep-seated prejudice against women and African Americans in medicine. After earning her degree in Boston, she spent time in Richmond, Virginia, after the American Civil War, caring for formerly enslaved people. In 1883, Dr. Crumpler published her Book of Medical Discourses. It chronicles her experiences as a doctor and guides maternal and child health.
To learn more about Dr. Linda Burke and the WHYS movement, visit (TheSmartMothersGuide.com).
Texas Has High Obesity Rates
It’s always bigger in Texas – so are the people!
According to a recent report by Trust for America’s Health, 35.5% of the adult population in Texas is considered obese. Louisiana, West Virginia and Oklahoma were among the states that had the highest obesity rate – 40% or more.. Texas was among 21 states whose obese percentage was 35% or more.
Over the past two decades, obesity rates have climbed for all population groups, with certain populations of color experiencing the highest rates, often due to structural barriers to healthy eating and a lack of opportunities and places to be physically active. Nationally, 41.9 percent of adults have obesity. Black and Latino adults have the highest obesity rates at 49.9 percent and 45.6 percent, respectively. People living in rural communities have higher rates of obesity than people living in urban and suburban areas.
This 2023 version is the 20th annual report on the antecedents and rates of obesity in the U.S. and policy solutions. Obesity rates are also increasing among children and adolescents, with nearly 20 percent of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 having obesity, according to 2017–2020 NHANES data. These rates have more than tripled since the mid-1970s, and Black and Latino youth have substantially higher rates of obesity than do their white peers.
According to TFAH’s analysis of the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, in 2022, 22 states had an adult obesity rate at or above 35 percent, up from 19 states the prior year. A decade ago, no state had an adult obesity rate at or above the 35 percent level.
Hidden Sugars Served Up to Kids
To reduce childhood obesity, the USDA recently held a comment request this past February for feedback on its proposal to revise long-term school nutrition standards, which includes less added sugars in school lunch and breakfast programs.
They proposed two alternatives: Beginning in the school year 2025-26, allow flavored milk (fat-free and low-fat) at school lunch and breakfast for high school children (grades 9-12) only. Elementary and middle school children (K-8) would be limited to fat-free and/or low-fat unflavored milk. The other alternative is to maintain the current standard, which allows all schools to offer fat-free and low-fat milk, flavored and unflavored, at school lunch and breakfast.
With over 14 million kids considered obese in the U.S., every little bit helps. For example, most elementary and middle schools offer fat-free chocolate milk. The 8-ounce carton contains about 18 grams of sugar. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages 2-18 should have a maximum of 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar daily.
A recent analysis of USDA’s School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study data found that flavored milk is the leading source of added sugars in the school lunch and breakfast programs, contributing almost half of the added sugars in lunches and about 30% of the added sugars in breakfasts.
The proposal states, “This approach would reduce exposure to added sugars and promote the more nutrient-dense choice of unflavored milk for young children when their tastes are being formed.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics says there are so many foods often marketed as “healthy” for kids and families that are unfortunately not great for maintaining a healthy weight or overall health.
Top Foods with Hidden Sugars:
- Sports drinks and energy drinks
- 100% juice drinks
- Breads and cereals
- Yogurts and flavored milks
- Most breakfast foods (cereals, pancakes, waffles, croissants)
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men in the United States. According to the latest research from scientists at the American Cancer Society (ACS), more than 288,000 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year, with close to 35,000 deaths. Black men are two times more likely to die from the disease than white men and have the highest death rate for prostate cancer of any racial and ethnic group. However, when prostate cancer is detected early, the odds of survival are high. More than 3.5 million men diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. are still alive today.
What are the warning signs of prostate cancer?
For some men, prostate cancer may lead to urinary problems, such as having difficulty starting urination or urinating frequently, or pain during ejaculation. These symptoms and signs also occur with non-cancer conditions, so it’s important to follow up with a physician to find out what’s causing these symptoms. If a cancer has already grown beyond the prostate, there may be pain in the hips, back, or other areas. For most people, however, no symptoms indicate prostate cancer and the cancer is diagnosed with a biopsy following an abnormal blood test.
What is the treatment for prostate cancer? This is an exciting time in prostate cancer, with substantial progress in new therapies over the past ten years. When the cancer is still confined to the prostate (localized), surgery (radical prostatectomy) and certain forms of radiation are useful to treat and cure prostate cancer. For men who have a low risk of their prostate cancer metastasizing, active surveillance – in which a patient is closely monitored for signs of cancer progression – can also be an important treatment to consider. When the cancer is more aggressive, other therapies include targeted hormonal pathways, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiopharmaceuticals.
Is there a screening test for prostate cancer?
The primary screening test for prostate cancer involves taking a blood sample and testing it for the level of a marker called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Higher levels of PSA in the blood can indicate prostate cancer, but also may be higher in benign conditions such as an enlarged prostate. While regular PSA screening can reduce prostate cancer mortality, there is some controversy since the test can pick up slower-growing cancers that will never lead to harm. An area of active research now aims to make more effective screening approaches, targeting the men at the highest risk of prostate cancer and then safely letting people know they can screen less regularly.
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