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Women of reproductive age with diabetes face greater health risks due to their increased risk of diabetes-related complications in pregnancy. These risks are even greater for women who belong to racial/ethnic minority groups.

A study published in Women’s Health Issues was performed to assess the quality of diabetes care for these vulnerable populations. The study mirrors past studies that have looked at racial disparities in diabetes care but focuses strictly on women of reproductive age, between the ages of 18 and 44.

This retrospective cohort study analyzed 2016 data, focusing on glycemic testing, glycemic control, and medication adherence among women of reproductive age with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The association between the patient’s ethnicity and outcome was estimated using Poisson regression.

Of the cohort studied, 83% of women had type 2 diabetes. Among women with type 2 diabetes, 31% had poor glycemic control, compared to 36% of women with type 1 diabetes who had poor glycemic control. Around 30% of women with type 2 diabetes exhibited some form of medication nonadherence as well.

Among women with type 2 diabetes, non-Hispanic white women were least likely to exhibit poor glycemic control. Non-Hispanic Black women and Hispanic women were both shown to be more likely to have poor glycemic control. This trend held for women with type 1 diabetes.

The researchers concluded that the reasons for poor glycemic control and lower medication adherence rates in non-Hispanic Black women and Hispanic women are not fully elucidated by this study. A call to action is made, advocating for interventions and further research that work to improve glycemic control and medication adherence for these vulnerable populations [1]. 

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[1] Marshall, C. J., Rodriguez, H. P., Dyer, W., & Schmittdiel, J. A. (2020). Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Diabetes Care Quality among Women of Reproductive Age in an Integrated Delivery System. Women’s Health Issues, 30(3), 191–199. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2020.03.003