'Black Children's Lives Matter': What This Pediatrician Wants Parents To Know Moving Forward
Parental visits are a time to get to know parents and for them to get to know me. The visits can be straightforward with discussions of office times and well checks. Sometimes they are more complex with discussions about vaccines, antibiotic usage and treatment philosophies. Either way, it is a good time to meet parents without the stress of just having had a baby.
A couple of years ago during a prenatal visit I was asked by a child’s parents about racial differences in children’s health. It was a good question and we took time to talk about it.
We talked about how the statistics show African American children have higher rates of asthma, obesity, diabetes and prematurity. We talked about how I approach nutrition and healthy eating from infancy to prevent obesity and diabetes in all of my patients. We talked about the management of asthma.
We did not talk about systemic racism and how that leads to differences in the health of African American children. I wish we had. I wish I had been thoughtful enough to talk to them about why I think the differences in health exist in African American children and how I would work to prevent those differences in my office, for my patients and for their child.
I am thankful the family chose me to be their child’s pediatrician. I am thankful they trusted me to care for their child after our prenatal visit.
I want to say now to this family and all families: I know that systemic racism exists in health care. Inadequate access to health services, good child care and healthy food can all lead to poor health in African American children. African American parents may be dismissed, their concerns minimized, their children ignored or labeled early as having behavior problems or being disruptive. All of which negatively impact the health and development of African American children.
I want all of our patients and families to know that this will not happen in our office. For all parents, we want to be a part of any discussion you want to have about race and your child’s health. We will not dismiss your concerns about your child’s health. We will listen to you and then give your child excellent care to the best of our ability. We stand by the Cook Children’s vow “that every child’s life is sacred”. Black children’s lives matter.
For more on this topic:
- Official Statement from Cook Children’s regarding Racial Bias
- 'I Want My Son To Come Home Alive.' Two Pediatricians Share Their Personal Experiences with Race in America
- The Impact of Racism on Child and Adolescent Health (AAP)
- How Racism Harms Children (Harvard Medical School)
Get to know Vanessa Charette, M.D.
Vanessa Charette, M.D., has been a pediatrician at Cook Children's for 10 years and is located at the Fort Worth (Magnolia) office. Dr. Charette embraces the many components that contribute to health: nutrition, physical activity, emotional/psychological stresses and the environment. As your pediatrician she will spend time with you discussing nutrition, child development and take the time to address any concerns you have about your child's health.
Dr. Charette earned her undergraduate degree at University of California, Los Angeles, and her medical degree at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She completed her residency in pediatrics at San Diego Children's Hospital/UCSD. Dr. Charette is bilingual in English and Spanish and became board certified in 2002. She has served as a board member for Cook Children's Physician Network, Cook Children's Health Plan and as the medical director of the Cook Children's Neighborhood Clinics.
Dr. Charette is married and the mother of two active young boys. Click here to make an appointment with Dr. Charette or call 817-336-4896.