30 Achievements in Women's Health in 30 Years (1984 – 2014)

A woman breastfeeding a child

Increase in breastfeeding

The CDC’s 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card marks continued progress over the last ten years in protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding in the United States. In recent decades, mothers, their families, and health professionals have realized the importance of breastfeeding while acknowledging that each mother’s decision about how she feeds her baby is a personal one. Every mother deserves information, guidance, and support in making this decision.

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An older woman, an adult woman, and a child

Increasing women's lifespan

Over the past 30 years women have been living longer. In 1984, a woman's life expectancy was 78. Today, women on average live to 81 — and that number continues to rise. However, the life expectancy of American women ranks far below Asian and European women, whose life expectancies range from 87 to 90 years.

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A woman talking to her doctor

Policy of inclusion of women in clinical trials

With the establishment of the first HHS task force on women’s health in 1983, there was new recognition that many factors, including body size, hormonal environment, and even body fat distribution can affect the way drugs are metabolized. This could potentially mean that life-saving drugs may not work, may not work as well, or may not work similarly, in women as they do in men.

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A woman receiving a breast cancer screening

Improvements in breast cancer screening

A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast used to check for breast cancer, the second most deadly cancer in women. Mammograms can find cancer early, sometimes up to three years before a woman or her doctor can feel a lump, and more than 90% of these early-stage cancers can be cured.

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A woman receiving comfort from a mental health professional

Improvements in mental health care for women

The first Surgeon General's report on mental health was released in 1999. Since then, awareness of the societal burden of mental illness, and the need for equitable treatment of it alongside physical health concerns, has increased. HHS, with leadership from SAMHSA and CMS, implements mental health parity laws to ensure that insurers cannot discriminate against those with mental illness by covering mental health treatments at a lower level than physical health concerns.

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