Recent studies show that diabetes affects over 245 million people world wide and almost three-quarters of those affected are women. As it is considered epidemic, researchers expect these rates to escalate to 360 million by 2020. Shocking figures reveal that in the US, almost 20 million children plus adults have diabetes including 9.8 million women and a third of them are unaware of the disease.
Diabetes has been known to be hard on women since it can affect both mother and her unborn child. The disease can cause difficulties such as miscarriages or even congenital disabilities. Women with diabetes are also susceptible to heart attack at a tender age than women without diabetes.
For women who do not have diabetes, pregnancy brings about the risks of gestational diabetes which develop from 2% to 5% of all pregnancies but disappears after pregnancy. Studies also show that Women who have given birth to an infant weighing over 9 pounds have high chances of developing Type 2 diabetes later on in life.
Diabetes Has Profound Effects on Women
Women in the minority racial as well as ethnic groups are the most hit by Type 2 diabetes. This prevalence is three times higher among Hispanic, black, and American-Indian women than among whites. As we have mentioned earlier, diabetes will most likely cause coronary diseases among women than men.
For those with diabetes, prognosis is worse in females than males. Women have a poor quality of life as well as low survival rates compared to men. The link between obesity and diabetes is also striking. Almost 48% of women with diabetes have a BMI greater than 30 kilograms per square meter compared with 20% of all women .
How Diabetes Affects Women at Different Stages of Life
1. Adolescent years (from 10-17 years)
About 86, 190 females aged 20 years and below have type 1 diabetes. Studies show that eating disorders are common among young women with type 1 diabetes. By the age of 18 years, 50% to 65% of youth with type 1 diabetes have shown signs of a diabetic eye disease called retinopathy which can cause blindness when left untreated. However, the risks of developing retinopathy is higher in girls than boys.
2. Reproductive years (from 18 to 44 years)
Type 2 diabetes accounts for high diabetic cases during reproductive years. Most women with type 1 diabetes were however diagnosed during adolescence. Studies also show that most of the gestational diabetes occurs in women with the risk factors for type 2 diabetes since they’re unable to secrete enough insulin to overcome increased insulin resistance during pregnancy .
3. Middle years (from 45 to 64 years)
Coronary heart diseases are the leading cause of illness among women with diabetes aged between 45 to 64 years; rates are four to eight times higher among women in this age bracket who have diabetes than among those not having diabetes and are of the same age. On the other hand, women with diabetes are more likely to have low socioeconomic status than those without the disease.
4. Older years (from 65 years onward).
Most of the women aged 65 years and above have diabetes but a quarter of them are unaware of the disease. Being of old age and having diabetes speeds up development of diabetic complications including stroke, kidney disease, heart disease and blindness. However, old aged women with diabetes have high risks for heart diseases, visual impairments, hyperglycemia, and depression.