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Kids With Diabetes May Be More Likely to Have Asthma

Study Shows Kids With Asthma and Diabetes Are More Likely to Have Trouble Controlling Blood Sugar
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Sept. 26, 2011 -- Children who have diabetes may be more likely to also have asthma. What's more, kids with both conditions are more likely to have poor control over their diabetes.

These are the two main findings of a new study in Pediatrics.

The study didn't explore why asthma and diabetes may be linked. But the two conditions share certain risk factors, including obesity.

They are also both related to underlying inflammation, says study researcher Mary Helen Black, PhD. She is a biostatistician/data consultant at Southern California Permanente Medical Group in Pasadena.

Black says that the next step will be to look at how diabetes and asthma are connected.

"If your child has diabetes first, recognize asthma symptoms," she says. These may include:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness, pain, or pressure

"Having to deal with diabetes all by itself is very difficult, so other things may go unnoticed or unchecked and it is important for physicians and parents to be mindful of a potential connection," she says.

Comparing Asthma Rates

The new study looked at asthma rates from 2002 to 2005 for 1,683 kids with type 1 diabetes and another 311 who had type 2 diabetes. Close to 11% of these children also had asthma, the study showed. This number is higher than the 8.7% seen among all children in the U.S.

Among children with diabetes who had asthma, the rate was higher in children who had type 2 diabetes. The asthma rate for those children was 16.1%, vs. 10% for children with type 1 diabetes. Many children in the study with either type of diabetes were overweight or obese.

Those children with asthma and diabetes had higher levels of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). This blood test provides a snapshot of average blood sugar control for the past two to three months. Poor blood sugar control is linked to many of the complications associated with diabetes.

"Among youth with diabetes, those with asthma were more likely to fall into the category of poor glucose control," Black says.

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