What We’re Reading: Biden Eyes Cohen for CDC; Bias in PFTs; US Birthrate Stays Flat


President Joe Biden has reportedly picked former North Carolina health chief Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, as next head of the CDC; Black men were probably underdiagnosed with lung problems because of software bias; the US birthrate remains flat.

Former NC Health Secretary Might Lead CDC

President Joe Biden plans to name Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, the former North Carolina health and human services chief, as the next director of the CDC, reported The New York Times. Cohen, an internist, headed the department from 2017 to 2021 and formerly served in the Obama administration. If chosen, Cohen would replace Rochelle P Walensky, MD, MPH, who announced that she would step down at the end of June.

Black Men Likely Underdiagnosed Due to Bias in PFT Testing

Racial bias inherent in pulmonary function testing (PFT) is likely contributing to fewer Black patients getting care, suggests a study, according to The Associated Press. As many as 40% more Black male patients in the study, published in JAMA Network Open, might have received a diagnosis of breathing problems if current diagnosis-assisting computer software was changed to be race neutral. The findings are the latest example of faulty assumptions of algorithms used in diagnostic tests and software.

US Birthrate Flat Compared to Pre-Pandemic

The birthrate in the United States stayed flat in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to a report from the CDC, reported The Hill. The CDC reported 3,661,220 provisional births in the United States in 2022, about 3000 fewer births than the year before. The CDC called it a “nonsignificant decline." Total birth count in 2022 also stayed below pre-pandemic levels after the birthrate slightly bounced back in 2021 following the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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