USC researcher finds cardiac
risks higher for
children, teens with diabetes
children and teens with diabetes, the news about their health is getting
A nationwide study shows that many have multiple risk factors for
cardiovascular disease, which may increase their risk for premature
heart disease and death.
Part of a 10-year study called SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth, the results
show that 21 percent of youth 19 or younger with diabetes have
“metabolic syndrome,” which is characterized by three or more risk
factors for heart disease, said Dr. Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, a researcher
at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health.
The risk factors include high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and
abnormal levels of fat in the blood, such as high triglycerides or low
levels of “HDL,” the body’s good cholesterol.
The results are published in the August issue of Diabetes Care.
“One of the most disturbing findings of this study is that minority
youth have significantly higher levels of metabolic syndrome than white
youth,” said Mayer-Davis, one of the principal investigators on the
SEARCH study. “Often, these are children who have limited access to
healthcare, which can result in poor management of their disease.”
Youth with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have metabolic syndrome
than youth with type 1 diabetes, she said.
“However, even youth with type 1 diabetes have a worse cardiovascular
disease risk profile than non-diabetic youth,” Mayer-Davis said. “It is
also very important to note that children even younger than 10 years old
already have a higher prevalence of the metabolic syndrome than young
children without diabetes.”
SEARCH investigators are increasing their efforts to learn more about
what the early development of cardiovascular risk factors will mean for
the long-term health of children with diabetes.
The study of 2,096 youth age 19 and under found that 68 percent of
American Indians, 37 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders, 35 percent of
Hispanics and 32 percent of African-American youth have multiple risk
factors for heart disease. Among non-Hispanic whites, the percentage was
USC is one of the six centers participating in the SEARCH study,
launched in 2000 and funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention with support from the National Institutes of Health.
Other centers are located in Ohio, Colorado, Washington, California and
Hawaii. The findings follow another SEARCH study, published in May in
the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, which found that
nearly 1,700 youth with diabetes across the United States have diets
high in saturated fat and low in fruits, vegetables and fiber.
Mayer-Davis, the lead author on that paper, found that nearly 94 percent
of children and teens with diabetes consume more saturated fat than the
nutrition recommendations from the American Diabetes Association; fewer
than 20 percent met the recommendations for fruits and vegetables; and
only about 6 percent got enough fiber.
“Diabetes in youth is a major public health concern,” Mayer-Davis said.
“The SEARCH studies continue to help us understand the prevalence and
severity of this problem and the need for all healthcare professionals
to work toward helping youth with diabetes control their disease.”
For more information:
Abstract of report from August 2006 Diabetes Care