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Diabetes - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Diabetes - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Diabetes interrupts the body's ability to use insulin ?— a hormone that converts food into energy for the body. People with diabetes are more likely to have an accumulation of glucose (i.e. food broken down into sugar) in the blood, which, over time can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death among women. There are different types of diabetes, including:

  • Type 2 diabetes: Occurs when the body is unable to use insulin appropriately to regulate blood sugar levels. Approximately 90-95% of diabetes cases are Type 2.
  • Type 1 diabetes: Thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction that either prevents the body from making insulin or makes the body resistant to insulin. Approximately 5% of diabetes cases are Type 1.
  • Gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant): Develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. It can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life for both mother and child.

Risk factors for developing diabetes include obesity or overweight, weight gain during adulthood and a family history of Type 2 diabetes. For women of reproductive age, diabetes increases the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. Compared with women without diabetes, women with any type of diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of preeclampsia, preterm delivery and miscarriage or stillbirth.

The total direct and indirect estimated cost of diabetes in the United States was $327 billion in 2012. Individual costs vary, however, the excess medical expenditure per person associated with diabetes increased from nearly $8,417 to $9,601 between 2012 and 2017.

  • CDC, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016-2017

Drug Deaths - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Drug Deaths - Women, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why is this important?

The United States is currently experiencing a terrible drug crisis. In 2017, more than 70,200 Americans died from drug overdoses. According to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment report, drug overdose deaths have risen steadily in the United States over the past two decades and have become a leading cause of injury death. Though these statistics reflect all drug deaths, opioids (i.e. painkillers) are the most significant contributor. The number of drug overdose deaths has never been higher, and the majority of these deaths, 68 percent in 2017, involved opioids.

Other drugs that contribute to an increasing number of drug deaths in the U.S. include stimulants such as cocaine, and tranquilizers such as benzodiazepines. Polysubstance abuse, or the use of multiple illicit substances simultaneously, has also lead to increases in drug deaths as the risk of overdose increases as drugs are combined. The percentage of cocaine-related overdose deaths involving any opioid  increased from 29.4 percent in 2000 to 63 percent in 2015, with heroin or synthetic opioids contributing to more than 81 percent of these deaths. Additionally, more than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines.


The alarming rise in drug overdose deaths is fueled largely by an epidemic of opioid overdoses. Opioids — drugs including morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, methadone and illicit heroin — account for nearly seven in 10 drug overdose deaths. Prescription opioids pose a danger to users because of the ease with which people can become addicted. Misuse of legal prescriptions accounted for 35 percent of drug overdose deaths in 2017. Many of those addicted to prescription opioids were first prescribed them by a doctor for pain or other illness. When prescriptions run out, many will look for other forms of the drug to fulfill cravings. These illegal and synthetic versions are unregulated and can pose many dangers to users.


In 2016, drug deaths associated with cocaine and psychostimulants increased by 42.4 percent. Methamphetamine, MDMA, ecstasy and methylphenidate (Ritalin) are particularly dangerous given their abuse potential. In 2017, among all drug overdose deaths, approximately 20 percent  involved cocaine and 14.7 percent involved psychostimulants.


In 2017, there were 11,537 overdose deaths attributed to benzodiazepines. Some common forms of benzodiazepines include diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin). Benzodiazepine overdose deaths are often caused by the properties within the drug which sedate users and suppress breathing.

Heavy drug use and overdoses are costly to society, burdening individuals, families, the health care system and the economy. The effects of substance misuse contribute to significant public health problems including teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, violence, crimes, homicide and suicide. Annual cost estimates for prescription opioid misuse and illicit drug use was $78.5 billion and $193 billion, respectively. Cost estimates account for direct health care, lost productivity at work and criminal justice system expenses.

  • CDC WONDER, Multiple Cause of Death Files, 2015-2017

Maternal Mortality, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Maternal Mortality, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of all developed countries and is the only industrialized nation with a rising rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System, maternal mortality has increased dramatically since 1987 — when surveillance was first implemented. Between 1987 and 2015 the U.S. maternal mortality rate has more than doubled. Additionally, the substantial and persistent disparity in maternal mortality across race/ethnicity is alarming.

  • CDC WONDER, Multiple Cause of Death Files, 2013-2017

Postpartum Depression, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Postpartum Depression, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs in some women following pregnancy and delivery. It is one of the most common medical complications during the six months following childbirth and is associated with adverse outcomes for both mother and child. 

Postpartum depressive symptoms include feeling sad, pessimistic or angry, crying more often, difficulty sleeping, feeling disconnected from the baby and worrying about hurting the baby. The primary risk factors for postpartum depression include previous depression, anxiety and/or mood disorders. Other risk factors include low social support, stress during pregnancy (including emotional, financial, partner-related or traumatic stress), traumatic birth experience, tobacco use during pregnancy, not breastfeeding, early cessation of breastfeeding or negative early breastfeeding experiences.

Symptoms of maternal depression during the early development phases of an infant could lead to long-term problems such as impaired mental and motor development, behavioral issues, poor self-regulation and low self-esteem.

  • CDC, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System or state equivalent, 2017

Unintended Pregnancy, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report
Measure: Unintended Pregnancy, 2019 Health Of Women And Children Report

Why does this matter?

An unintended pregnancy is either unwanted (occurring when no children are desired) or mistimed (occurring at a different time than desired). Unintended pregnancies may pose health risks to mother and baby, resulting from delayed or lack of prenatal care. Births resulting from unintended pregnancies are associated with adverse health outcomes for mother and baby, including:

Public insurance programs such as Medicaid pay for 68% of unplanned births, compared with 38% of planned births. In 2010, expenditures on unintended pregnancies by Medicaid and other public programs were estimated to be $21 billion.

  • CDC, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System or state equivalent, 2017

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