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World Diabetes Day 2017 : Women and diabetes - Facts

14 November 2017

The theme of World Diabetes Day 2017 is Women and diabetes – our right to a healthy future.


Key messages

All women with diabetes require affordable and equitable access to care and education to better manage their diabetes and improve their health outcomes.


Supporting facts

There are currently over 199 million women living with diabetes. This total is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040.

Two out of every five women with diabetes are of reproductive age, accounting for over 60 million women worldwide.

Diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally, causing 2.1 million deaths per year.

Women with type 2 diabetes are almost 10 times more likely to have coronary heart disease than women without the condition.

Women with type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of early miscarriage or having a baby with malformations.

What needs to be done

  • Health systems must pay adequate attention to the specific needs and priorities of women. 

  • All women with diabetes should have access to the essential diabetes medicines and technologies, self-management education and information they need to achieve optimal diabetes outcomes. 

  • All women with diabetes should have access to pre-conception planning services to reduce risk during pregnancy. 

  • All women and girls should have access to physical activity to improve their health outcomes. 

  • Pregnant women require improved access to screening, care and education to achieve positive health outcomes for mother and child.

Supporting facts

  • 1 in 7 births is affected by gestational diabetes.

  • IDF estimates that 20.9 million or 16.2% of live births to women in 2015 had some form of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy. Approximately half of women with a history of GDM go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.

  • Half of all cases of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy occur in women under the age of 30.

  • The vast majority of cases of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy were in low- and middle-income countries, where access to maternal care is often limited.

What needs to be done

  • Type 2 diabetes prevention strategies must focus on maternal health and nutrition and other health behaviours before and during pregnancy, as well as infant and early childhood nutrition.

  • Antenatal care visits during pregnancy must be optimised for health promotion in young women and early detection of diabetes and GDM.

  • Screening for diabetes and GDM should be integrated into other maternal health interventions and services at primary healthcare level to ensure early detection, better care for women and reduced maternal mortality.

  • Healthcare workers should be trained in the identification, treatment, management and follow up of diabetes during pregnancy.

  • Women and girls are key agents in the adoption of healthy lifestyles to improve the health and wellbeing of future generations.

Supporting facts

  • Up to 70% of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented through the adoption of a healthy lifestyle.

  • 70% of premature deaths among adults are largely due to behavior initiated during adolescence.

  • Women, as mothers, have a huge influence over the long-term health status of their children.

  • Research has shown that when mothers are granted greater control over resources, they allocate more to food, children’s health and nutrition, and education.

  • Women are the gatekeepers of household nutrition and lifestyle habits and therefore have the potential to drive prevention from the household and beyond.

What needs to be done

  • Women and girls should be empowered with easy and equitable access to knowledge and resources to strengthen their capacity to prevent type 2 diabetes in their families and better safeguard their own health.

  • Promoting opportunities for physical exercise in adolescent girls, particularly in developing countries, must be a priority for diabetes prevention.

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