Study reveals bias in drug testing pregnant patients

Arielle Dreher

Pregnant Black patients were drug tested more often than white patients before delivery, a JAMA Health Forum analysis of patients in a large Pennsylvania health system from March 2018 to June 2021 found.

  • Black patients were no more likely to test positive for using substances while pregnant, but even those with no history of substance use were asked to get urine toxicology testing more often than other racial groups, the study of more than 37,000 patients found.

Why it matters: Federal and some state laws require providers to report patients to child welfare agencies if their toxicology report reveals substance use.

  • But not applying the practices evenly across groups can amount to medical racism, said Marian Jarlenski, lead researcher and professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.