Changing the equation: Researchers remove race from a calculator for childbirth

Since 2007, obstetricians have counseled patients planning to give birth after a previous C-section with help from a simple calculator designed to determine the likelihood of having a successful vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC.

The tool takes into account a patient’s age, height, weight, and their history of vaginal and cesarean delivery. It also asks two yes-or-no questions: “African-American?” “Hispanic?” The answers can predict a drastically lower chance of success for patients of color. But now, after years of work by researchers, advocates, and clinicians, that racialized calculator has been replaced by a newly validated version that is the same in almost every way — except for eliminating race and ethnicity as a risk factor.

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