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News Releases

For Immediate Release

Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Find Evidence of “Double Diabetes” Among Pediatric Patients

Researchers also find prevalence of being overweight at onset of type 1 diabetes has tripled

A Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh researchers have found evidence that children can have characteristics of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, a condition they have termed “double diabetes” that can complicate diagnosis and treatment.

Previous studies involving Children’s researchers have reported evidence of double diabetes in adults, but this is the first time the condition is reported in children.

In a study of 260 children, half of them black and half white, Children’s Hospital researchers including Ingrid Libman, MD, PhD, an endocrinologist, and Dorothy Becker, MBBCh, chief of Endocrinology and Diabetes, found that one in four black children and one in 10 white children had double diabetes.

“This concept of double diabetes in children is important because it can affect the way we diagnose and treat their diabetes,” Dr. Becker said. “Patients with type 1 diabetes are insulin-dependent, while patients with type 2 diabetes are insulin-resistant. This study suggests risk factors and complications from type 1 might overlap into type 2, and vice versa.”

These study findings are reported in the October issue of Diabetes Care, a publication of the American Diabetes Association.

In the study of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1979 and 1998, 25 percent of black children also were obese and/or had a skin condition consistent with type 2 diabetes. Ten percent of white children with type 1 diabetes also had these characteristics of type 2 diabetes.

These children found to have double diabetes had the classic symptom of type 1 diabetes – insulin dependence – as well as insulin resistance and obesity, characteristics of type 2 diabetes. Future studies will look at treatment options for these patients with double diabetes, including use of insulin, diet and exercise, to manage insulin dependence and resistance, according to Dr. Becker.

Obesity, which has been linked to the onset of type 2 diabetes, also may be contributing to a rise in type 1 diabetes, according to a second study by the same Children’s researchers. In the second study, also to be published in the October issue of Diabetes Care, Children’s researchers report that the prevalence of being overweight at the onset of type 1 diabetes has tripled from the 1980s to the 1990s, following the trend in the general population.

In this second study, the prevalence of being overweight at onset of type 1 diabetes increased from 12.6 percent to 36.8 percent from the 1980s to the 1990s. “This study suggests that obesity may be contributing not only to world’s type 2 diabetes epidemic, but to the rising incidence of type 1 diabetes,” Dr. Libman said.

"These two studies show the importance of the role of nutrition in type 1 diabetes," Dr. Becker said.

They also form the basis for further research studies at Children’s to determine whether the food newborns consume affects the risk of getting type 1, or insulin-dependent, diabetes. This study, the 10-year Trial to Reduce Insulin Dependent Diabetes in the Genetically at Risk (TRIGR) is funded by the National Institutes of Health and other organizations from around the world. It is the world’s first diabetes trial to intervene before babies develop antibodies that lead to type 1 diabetes.

Researchers also want to determine whether excess nutrition intake accelerates the onset of type 1 diabetes in relatives of people with this disorder.

These studies are detailed at Children’s Web site, www.chp.edu. From there, click on About Children’s and then “Departments and Services.” Then click on “Diabetes” and finally, “Diabetes Research.”

Contacts:
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5016, Melanie.Finnigan@chp.edu
Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-5016, Marc.Lukasiak@chp.edu

Last Update
June 17, 2008
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Last Update
June 17, 2008
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