What are the hidden side effects of diabetes in children that parents need to know about? Most parents are unaware of one major side effect of diabetes in children that a new study has researched at length.

CBS news reports on the little known side effect. A new study shows that high blood sugar has the propensity to slow brain growth in children. This typically affects children suffering from type 1 diabetes.

How was the study conducted?

Researchers included children between the ages of 4 to 9 years old. The children underwent brain scans and tests to assess their mental abilities. Researchers also monitored the children’s’ blood sugar levels.

What were the results?

“Compared to children without diabetes, the brains of those with the disease had slower overall and regional growth of gray and white matter. These differences were associated with higher and more variable blood sugar levels, according to the study. But, the researchers didn't find any significant differences in the children's thinking and memory skills, or cognition,” according to CBS.

Experts were actually surprised by the results. The researchers are looking into ways that this can be prevented, but it will take time to come up with a way to stop it.

The study’s author is Dr. Maurus, chief of the division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Nemours Children's Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. He commented on his study saying,

“Our results show the potential vulnerability of young developing brains to abnormally elevated glucose [blood sugar] levels, even when the diabetes duration has been relatively brief. As better technology develops, we hope to determine if the differences observed with brain imaging can improve with better glucose control.”

Many parents who have a child with a chronic illness have these concerns. They worry about whether the illness will affect the child’s brain development. Unfortunately this is always a serious possibility, because children’s brains are constantly developing, particularly until the age of seventeen.

Diabetes in general can cause various other problems as well as lead to amputation and loss of vision.

The New York Times reports on the dangers of diabetes as well, and how it can be prevented.

There are many support groups now that people can join to keep weight off and prevent diabetes. There are also support groups for diabetics who can connect with each other and give each other moral support to help each other keep their blood sugar and normal healthy levels.

What happens in these groups? “As in any support group, members sit around a table and talk about what worked this week and what didn’t. Most participants here are in their late 50s and 60s,” according to The Times.

The Times followed a particular group running something called the Diabetes Prevention Program. The results of the program are apparently extremely impressive. Apparently, experts have shown that the program helps reduce the risk of diabetes by 58% in about 1,000 people. And in people over the age of 60, the program reduced the risk by an astronomical 70%.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have taken steps to aid in the fight against diabetes too. They announced the National Diabetes Prevention Program in 2012. Now the plan is offered in every state and city.

The Times reports, “This may be the largest national health effort that most of us haven’t heard of, and one of the most important, especially for older adults. Ann Albright, who directs the diabetes division at the C.D.C., estimates that in the first two years nearly 50,000 Americans have joined one of its recognized diabetes prevention programs, which are aimed at people whose weight, blood glucose levels or other factors suggest they are at elevated risk for developing the disease.”


Gerry Oginski
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