Date of publication: March 8, 2018

News & Views

World Kidney Day 8th March 2018: Kidneys and Women’s Health

World Kidney Day is the result of a collaboration between the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF). This year, World Kidney Day coincides with International Women’s Day, providing an exciting opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of kidney disease in women and the specific challenges they face.

  • CKD impacts approximately 195 million women globally and is the 8th leading cause of death in women with more than 600,000 female deaths a year1
  • CKD is more likely to develop in women compared with men, with an average 14% prevalence in women and 12% in men2

Specific challenges: Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a risk for women who already have some level of kidney disease, not only for the outcome of the pregnancy itself but also due to increased risk of post-partum CKD progression. CKD may lead to placental dysfunction, and increase the risk of pre-term delivery and hypertensive disorders.3

In addition, complications of pregnancy such as preeclampsia, infection of the placenta and haemorrhage are leading causes of acute kidney injury (AKI) in women and the possible development of CKD later in life.4 Both CKD and AKI during pregnancy also increase the risk of anaemia,3,5 which is already experienced by over 40% of pregnant women and is associated with worsened pregnancy outcomes. 6

There is also the potential for an impact on the next generation. The presence of CKD, preeclampsia or AKI in pregnancy can result in infants that are small for their gestational age. These infants are, in turn, more likely to develop diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease as adults.3

Greater awareness of kidney disease in pregnancy may help improve diagnosis and follow-up, with pregnancy providing a clear opportunity to diagnose CKD.

Specific challenges: Bacterial and Autoimmune Disease

Several diseases which have a detrimental effect on renal function are more prevalent in women than men. These include pyelonephritis7and autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic scleroderma.3 Women are, in fact, 9 times more likely to be affected by lupus than men.3

Despite these specific risk factors, women are underrepresented in clinical studies and are more likely to donate than receive a kidney, with fewer women than men receiving dialysis.3

Include, Value, Empower

Help raise awareness of CKD and women’s health by following, and sharing, the official World Kidney Day 2018 campaign:

Facebook: World Kidney Day_Official
Twitter: @worldkidneyday
Instagram: world_kidney_day_official


  1. Data on prevalence and mortality in women taken from GBD website. Available at:
  2. Hill NR, Fatoba ST, Oke JL, et al. Global Prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease – A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS One. 2016:1-18. doi:10.5061/dryad.3s7rd.Funding.
  3. Piccoli GB, Alrukhaimi M, Liu Z-H, Zakharova E, Levin A. Women and kidney disease: Reflections on world kidney day 2018. J Ren Care. 2018;44(1):3-11. doi:10.1111/jorc.12232.
  4. Acharya A, Santos J, Linde B, Anis K. Acute Kidney Injury in Pregnancy-Current Status. Adv Chronic Kidney Dis. 2013;20(3):215-222. doi:10.1053/j.ackd.2013.02.002.
  5. Mehdi U, Toto RD. Anemia, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. Diabetes Care. 2009;32(7):1320-6. doi:10.2337/dc08-0779.
  6. Scholl TO. Maternal iron status: relation to fetal growth, length of gestation, and iron endowment of the neonate. Nutr Rev. 2011;69 Suppl 1:S23-9. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00429.x.
  7. Pyelonephritis. Available at:

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