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What's Next: Awareness, Action, or Both?


The Month of March is essential for various reasons. It’s the period in which we are one-quarter through the Calendar Year; it is the Month that ushers in the Spring Season, and it is also the time of year when we recognize Women’s History Month. However, the Month of March is also recognized as the Month in which we take the time to bring attention to two vital health components: Developmental Disabilities and Kidney Health.

Chronic Kidney Disease

According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 7 Americans suffer from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). That’s around 15% of U.S. Adults (approx.. 37 Million Individuals). Kidney Disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. 1

What are the signs to look for?

People with CKD may not feel ill or notice any symptoms. The only way to find out for sure if you have CKD is through specific blood and urine tests.1 In the early stages of kidney disease, you may not have symptoms.

Symptoms can develop if kidney disease is not found early or gets worse over time despite treatment.

Symptoms can include:

  • weight loss and poor appetite
  • swollen ankles, feet or hands – as a result of water retention edema.
  • shortness of breath
  • tiredness
  • blood in urine
  • an increased need to urinate – particularly at night
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • itchy skin
  • muscle cramps
  • feeling sick
  • headaches
  • erectile dysfunction in men

Preventable Methods/Risk Management

According to the CDC, preventing chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its complications is possible by managing risk factors and treating the disease to slow its progression and reduce the risk of complications. To keep healthy kidneys, it is important to control those risk factors for CKD that can be modified.

  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Get active. Physical activity helps control blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Getting a checkup? Make sure to get your kidneys checked too. Make sure you are also seeing a nephrologist (kidney doctor) routinely.
  • Take medications as directed.
  • Keep your blood pressure below 140/90 or ask your doctor what the best blood pressure target is for you.
  • If you have diabetes, stay in your target blood sugar range as much as possible.
  • Stay in your target cholesterol range.
  • Eat foods that are lower in salt.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.

Developmental Disabilities

The 2023 theme for Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, focused on the question, What’s Next? With this theme, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, aka the NACDD plans to highlight change and innovation – what individuals and communities are doing to move past discussions and execute innovative plans on education, employment, and accessibility.  The purpose is to help raise awareness about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Developmental Disability is a diverse group of chronic conditions that are due to mental or physical impairments. A developmental disability can occur before, during, or after birth. Common, well-known developmental disabilities include autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and Fragile X Syndrome. Here are some facts and statistics on developmental disabilities.

  • Developmental Disability is a severe, long-term disability that affects cognitive ability, physical functioning, or both.
  • Approximately 1 in 6 or about 17% of children aged 3 through 17 have one or more developmental disabilities.
  • The prevalence of developmental disability among children has increased over the past years, between 2009-2011 and again between 2015-2017. (https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/developmentaldisabilities/features/increase-in-developmental-disabilities.html).
  • In a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2019, describing how often children in the U.S. were diagnosed with developmental disabilities between 2009 and 2017, some groups of children were more likely to have been diagnosed with a developmental disability than others: males more than females and children from families with incomes below the federal poverty level.

Some strategies for working with both adults and children with developmental disabilities include (1) Emphasizing and focusing on the strengths, not the weaknesses, (2) Treat the same as others, (3) Learn the true meaning of “Inclusion” and be sure to implement.

Those with intellectual and developmental disabilities often require special care and unique communication techniques or exhibit behavior that others may consider “difficult.” The more people who understand the correct strategies for working with adults with developmental disabilities, the higher their quality of life will become. 


  1. CDC: Chronic Kidney Disease Basics: https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/basics.html#:~:text=Kidney%20diseases%20are%20a%20leading,dialysis%20treatment%20for%20kidney%20failure.
  2. NHS: Symptoms, Chronic Kidney Disease https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/kidney-disease/symptoms/
  3. American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. (n.d.). Defining criteria for intellectual disability. https://www.aaidd.org/intellectual-disability/definition
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Developmental Disabilities: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/developmentaldisabilities/index.html
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Facts about intellectual disability in children. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/facts-about-intellectual-disability.html and Data and Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
  6. Pediatrics (October, 2019). Article: Prevalence and Trends of Developmental Disabilities among children in the U.S.: 2009-2017. https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/144/4/e20190811/76974/Prevalence-and-Trends-of-Developmental?autologincheck=redirected
What's Next Awareness, Action, or Both, CDC, Chronic Kidney Disease, Symptoms, Preventable Methods


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