Diabetes in children: uneven distribution

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Diabetes particularly often affects children with a migration background

Diabetes is gradually developing into a widespread disease in modern industrialized nations, which is affecting more and more children and adolescents. A few decades ago, diseases of type 2 diabetes were almost exclusively observed in older people (hence the term adult diabetes), but nowadays adolescents are increasingly suffering from the metabolic disorder. A new study by the University of Ulm, which was published in the specialist magazine "Pediatric Diabetes", shows that especially children and adolescents with a migration background develop type 2 diabetes particularly often.

The proportion of children and adolescents with a migration background in the type 2 diabetes diseases recorded was, at 40 percent, more than twice as high as their proportion in the total population, the researchers write. Children of Turkish, Eastern European and Russian descent in particular suffered from type 2 diabetes with an above-average rate, according to the study author Dr. Wendy Awa, research assistant at the Institute for Epidemiology and Medical Biometry at the University of Ulm. In their view, socio-economic reasons play a role in the increased risk of diabetes among children with a migration background. A comparable increased risk of illness is known, for example, among ethnic minorities in the United States. For example, “Indigenous people, African Americans, Latin Americans, and Asians” would increasingly “get this overweight-related form of insulin resistance.”

Ulm Children's Diabetes Biobank As part of the current study, the doctoral human biologist Dr. Wendy Awa "analyzes the demographic, biometric, clinical, immunological and genetic data of a total of 107 young type II diabetes patients in Germany and Austria for statistical correlations," reports the University of Ulm in a current press release. The data came from a so-called diabetes patient history documentation, the heart of which is the Ulm Children's Diabetes Biobank, for which a new project portal has been opened in the German Biobank Register, the university added. In addition to patient data, the children's diabetes biobank collects over 2,000 blood and serum samples from around 150 pediatric diabetes facilities. "With this biobank, we have an excellent tool to look for evidence of significant correlations as the basis for further research," explained the coordinator of the database and head of the current study, Professor Reinhard Holl from the Institute for Epidemiology and Medical Biometry at the University of Ulm.

Boys more at risk of health from diabetes than girls "It is controversial that type II diabetes is often associated with the so-called metabolic syndrome", a key risk factor for coronary artery disease, reports study leader Professor Holl. The metabolic syndrome includes the interplay of obesity, high blood pressure, abnormally altered blood lipid levels and insulin resistance, which forms the basis for numerous other health impairments or diseases, the expert explained. According to Professor Holl, there was a health-related link between the clinical pictures mentioned in the current study, especially among young male patients. They suffered particularly often from concomitant diseases such as high blood pressure or abnormally altered blood lipid levels and had to be treated with medication accordingly. While the girls were the majority of the diabetes type II sufferers in relation to the totality of the patients examined, the boys were apparently at greater risk of health.

Most of the young diabetics were overweight Less surprising, according to the press release from the University of Ulm, "the fact that a majority of the young diabetes type II patients were overweight or even obese." Because obesity in particular is considered to be one of the main causes for the development of a type -2 diabetes. The results of the studies would also have shown a clear connection with the family disposition regarding the obesity of the adolescents, "whereby we noticed in particular a certain pre-formation by the mother", explained Dr. Wendy Awa. According to the researchers, significantly more mothers than fathers of obese children were also overweight or obese. In addition, diabetes was also diagnosed in over 80 percent of the parents or grandparents of the obese diabetes children. Despite these strong connections with the hereditary disposition, in most cases the wrong diet and exercise behavior are decisive for the development of obesity.

Helping to make diabetes diagnoses more precise According to the researchers, the study also showed that some young diabetes patients were wrongly classified as type 2 diabetics due to their overweight, even though they had the autoimmune profile of a type I diabetic. This makes a big difference for those affected, because while type I patients need insulin for life, there is "hope for many type II patients that they can get the disease under control with healthier nutrition and more exercise," explained Dr. Here, the Ulm children's diabetes biobank "can also help to make the diagnosis more precise," emphasized Professor Holl. In addition, the particular risk to children with a migration background should be taken into account in future prevention strategies against diabetes in order to avoid a further increase in diseases. However, Professor Holl was also able to give a little all-clear about the development of diabetes: “Although the disease has been diagnosed more and more frequently in Germany in recent years, we are still a long way from an epidemic that the media like to paint. "(Fp)

Image: Heike Berse / pixelio.de

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