We appreciate the thoughtful letter of the Latino Consortium of the Center for Child Health Research on our recent editorial concerning the use of race and ethnicity in research published in the ARCHIVES. We agree that researchers, clinicians, and public policy makers alike should seek to eliminate disparities in child health. Our editorial was aimed at exactly that—to encourage strong science to better understand the reasons why one group of children and adolescents has poorer health and decreased access to care compared with another. The use (and misuse) in research of race and ethnicity as simple explanatory variables does not necessarily help children and can in fact be harmful by focusing on unchangeable factors and neglecting to examine potentially changeable ones. Many studies ascribe poor health in minority children as simply owing to nonwhite race or to Hispanic ethnicity when in fact their poor health is a result of the poverty, dilapidated housing, environmental toxins, poor education, and racism to which these children and their families have found themselves exposed.
Rivara FP, Finberg L. Why Ethnicity and Race Are So Important in Child Health Services Research Today—Reply. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001;155(10):1175-1176. doi:10.1001/archpedi.155.10.1175