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Diabetes in Down Syndrome children: Causes, factors that can increase prevalence of type 2 diabetes in kids

ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

According to health experts, people with Down Syndrome are often diagnosed with diabetes significantly earlier where the average age of diagnosis was 38 compared to 53 in those without Down Syndrome. The increased risk for individuals considerably younger than this, highlights the significance of careful, early-stage surveillance.

Given how vulnerable this population is and the consequences diabetes can cause in later life, Dr Atul Palwe (Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist at Motherhood Hospital in Pune’s Lullanagar) shared his opinion in an interview with HT Lifestyle, on how yearly health checkups for children with Down syndrome need to be more closely monitored for excess weight, obesity and early indicators of diabetes. Talking about the causes of diabetes in Down Syndrome children, he revealed, “We are aware that children with Down syndrome are four times more likely than normal kids to acquire diabetes. Children with Down’s syndrome typically experience diabetes earlier than other kids in the general community. Type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system assaults and kills the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, is more likely to develop in children with Down’s syndrome. However, type 2 diabetes can occur in certain Down’s syndrome sufferers.”

He added, “The main causes of this are believed to be genetics and high body weight. People with Down syndrome were shown to have higher BMIs and peak at younger ages, increasing their chance of developing type 2 diabetes sooner. Due to additional chromosomes and immune system problems, type 1 diabetes is also more likely in people with Down syndrome. Compared to matched controls without Down Syndrome, children, adolescents and young adults with Down Syndrome had increased incidence rates of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes is indicated by insulin resistance, which occurs when the body does not respond to insulin as it should and previously, type 2 diabetes was thought to be an adult-onset condition but this is no longer true as an rising percentage of kids are being labelled as overweight. According to Dr Atul Palwe, the following factors can increase the prevalence of type 2 diabetes:

  • Obese or overweight
  • Sedentary kind of life (not having much physical activity)
  • Puberty-related hormonal changes
  • Type 2 diabetes runs in the family
  • Gestational diabetes in one of your biological parents (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Having a different health issue that causes insulin resistance

Dr Atul Palwe highlighted, “The risk of type 2 diabetes in children is influenced by several variables. Therefore, please don’t feel guilty if you believe you have been “doing everything properly” but your child still has type 2 diabetes despite this. Early identification of the symptoms and obtaining help from a healthcare professional can help your child’s health and avert lifetime issues.”

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