Women and Kidney Disease: Focus for World Kidney Day 2018

World Kidney Day Focuses on Women’s Risks for Kidney Disease

Every March, the National Kidney Foundation partners with other health groups from all over the world to make World Kidney Day (WKD) a global event. The main purpose of WKD is to make people aware of how important their kidneys are to overall health and how they can prevent or slow down the progression of kidney disease. Millions of people around the world have chronic kidney disease (CKD), which can affect anyone, no matter their age, gender, race, or ethnic background.  A yearly global theme, however, helps the larger kidney community focus on a specific issue. In 2016, WKD focused on kidney disease and children, in 2017, the topic was obesity and its effects on kidney health, and this year the theme is Kidneys & Women’s Health: Include, Value, Empower. This is because women have certain risks for CKD that men do not. WKD will bring attention to these risks and inform women on how to lower their risk.  Some research has shown that the risk for CKD is slightly greater in women than in men - 14% women versus 12% men.1  

UTIs and kidney infections are more common in women

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) lead to nearly 10 million healthcare visits each year and, if not treated early, the germs can travel up to the kidneys and cause a worse type of infection, called pyelonephritis (pie-yeh-low-nef-right-us). UTIs and kidney infections are more common in women and the risk increases in pregnancy.

Women have added risks for CKD

Women's health is unique. One thing we know for certain is that women of child-bearing age face different problems than men when it comes to kidney disease. Women with CKD are generally discouraged from using “the pill” as a birth control method due to a greater chance for an increase in blood pressure and blood clots that can make kidney disease worse. Women with CKD may have more problems with pregnancy, causing increased risk to the mother and the child.  Even women without CKD may be at risk during both pregnancy and birth because of pre-eclampsia and other problems that increase blood pressure and put a strain on the kidneys.  Prenatal care is therefore crucial for all pregnant women for this very reason.  Pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure when pregnant can lead to kidney failure and the risk for CKD later in life.

Learn more about Pregnancy with Kidney Disease. As always, talk to your doctor about your risk for chronic kidney disease and get your kidneys tested with these two simple tests.
1. United States Renal Data System. 2016 USRDS annual data report: Epidemiology of kidney disease in the United States. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD, 2016.