Gestational Diabetes and African American Women

Topics: Blood sugar, Diabetes mellitus, African American Pages: 5 (1358 words) Published: August 13, 2009
Diabetes and the African Amer

Diabetes and African American

Diabetes is a condition that affects millions of individuals throughout the world, and it is a condition that affects the African American community dramatically. One is said to be diabetic when the blood glucose levels are elevated above what is considered normal. An organ within the human body called the pancreas produces insulin, which is a hormone that assists glucose into our cells to then be used for energy. The human body absorbs glucose from the food that is consumed every day, and most of that food is turned in to glucose. Individuals are diagnosed with diabetes whenever their pancreas produces and insufficient amount of insulin (Centers for Disease Control, 2007). Diabetes is a condition that has plagued the African American community for years. There are many factors which contribute to African Americans and their susceptibility to diabetes along with many speculations to the causative agent for this condition among African Americans; many methods are available to help prevent and control this epidemic. Decreasing the risk by education and lifestyle changes is crucial to the future of the black community.

The Epidemic within the African American Community

The statistics indicating the number of African Americans affected by diabetes are startling. According to the American Diabetes Association 13.3% of all African Americans older than 20 have diabetes and one in four African American women over the age of 55. Type-1 diabetes or also known as juvenile diabetes affects a small number of diabetics. Type-2 diabetes or adult onset diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and the form that is most common among African Americans. Gestational diabetes, one of the three forms of diabetes occurs when a woman’s body is not able to produce enough insulin during pregnancy. It has been reported that this type of diabetes occurs in about 4% of pregnancies, and an estimated 135,000 cases occur each year (American Diabetes Association, 2007). This condition can cause many complications to a woman and possibly her unborn child if left untreated. African American women are 80% more likely to have gestational diabetes than white women (Diabetes, 2003). Nearly all mothers affected by this condition will return to normal glucose levels shortly after delivery however; women who have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to develop type-2 diabetes later in life. An individual with diabetes has a higher risk factor to develop more serious conditions such as heart disease and stroke which is the leading cause of death among diabetics. Some of these conditions also affect the black community more than others. Diabetes is now the fourth leading cause of death among African Americans. The number of African Americans with diabetes has increased dramatically in the last 40 years (Unknown, 2007). Clearly there is an epidemic among African Americans and something must be done.

Why African Americans are Vulnerable

As mentioned previously, there is much debate amongst researchers as to what causes African Americans to be more vulnerable to this and other chronic diseases, or even race susceptibility in general. Are specific races more prone to contracting certain diseases solely on their genetic makeup? It has been proven that there are a higher number of minorities living with diabetes than Caucasians, but the truth remains unclear. One study released by the University of California states that a persons’ race does not explain why a person is more prone to certain diseases. In this case, over 250 different genes were studied that in the past have been linked to diabetes, but the results were too low to show a connection that the genes were the causative agent. The most significant reason for acquiring these conditions is personal lifestyle choices which are alterable in most cases (English, 2007). Another theory is that...

References: American Diabetes Association (2007). Gestational Diabetes. Retrieved January 13th, 2007 from
Centers for Disease Control (2007). Basics about Diabetes. Diabetes Public Health Resource.
Retrieved January 13th, 2008 from
Diabetes in African American Women.(2003, May 23)
Retrieved January 13, 2008 from Ethnic NewsWatch (ENW) database, within Proquest
English People’s Daily Online (2007). Study Challenges theory that certain groups prone to
Unknown Author (2007)
Advisory Committee. Retrieved January 13th, 2008 from
Cohen, Robert H
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