Growth Hormone in Kids Linked to Risk of Diabetes
WebMD News Archive
The authors say several possible explanations could account for the high
incidence of type 2 diabetes reported in the study. "Although type 2
diabetes mellitus is thought to be rare in childhood and adolescence, there has
been a substantial increase in the incidence of this disorder in the past few
years," writes Wayne S. Cutfield, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at the
University of Auckland.
Another possibility is that the growth hormone may have hastened the onset
of type 2 diabetes that would have occurred in adult life even if the children
had not taken the hormone.
Stephen Gitelman, MD, director of the pediatric diabetes program at the
University of California in San Francisco, says the findings are not overly
"We're seeing a real surge in type 2 diabetes in adolescents,"
Gitelman tells WebMD. "It's really reaching epidemic proportions. So we
have this background where children are at increased risk as a result of ethnic
diversity in our country and increased obesity, increased sedentary lifestyle,
etc. And then on top of that you give a drug known to influence [glucose]
metabolism and exacerbate insulin resistance. Given that background, it's not
surprising that you are going to see a tendency toward more kids with
But Gitelman says the possibility of diabetes developing during growth
hormone treatment should always be discussed with parents, and if diabetes does
develop, the shots either can be discontinued or the doses can be adjusted so
as not to interfere with the diabetes.
- Growth hormone treatments are prescribed to children whose pituitary glands
do not make enough of the hormone for normal growth, but some uses of the
medication are controversial.
- A new study shows that children taking growth hormone are six times as
likely to develop type 2 diabetes, when compared to healthy children not taking
- Experts are unsure what to make of these findings, as many of these
children are already at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and the growth
hormone may serve only to hasten its onset.