The study, published in Diabetes Care, examined just under 10,000 people with Down Syndrome and nearly 40,000 without.
Down syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome. It causes a distinct facial appearance, intellectual disability and developmental delays. It may be associated with thyroid or heart disease.
Early intervention programmes with a team of therapists and special educators who can treat each child’s specific situation are helpful in managing Down’s syndrome.
Children and young adults with Down Syndrome are four times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, according to new research led by Queen Mary University of London and King’s College London.
The population-based analysis used information from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, one of the most widely used datasets, for three decades (from 1990 to 2020). In one of the largest Down Syndrome cohorts in the world, the researchers are examining the prevalence of diabetes and obesity in Down Syndrome across the life span for the first time.
Researchers discovered that children with Down syndrome, aged five to 14, have a ten times higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than children without the disorder. Given how prone to diabetes this population is, it implies that yearly health examinations for children with Down syndrome ought to be more extensively monitored for excess weight, obesity, and early indicators of diabetes.
The increased risk for those much younger than this highlights the significance of vigilant, early-stage monitoring, even though the study found that people with Down Syndrome typically receive diabetes diagnoses much earlier—the average age of diagnosis for someone with Down Syndrome was 38, compared to 53 for those without Down Syndrome.
The main causes of this are believed to be genetics and high body weight.
People with Down syndrome were found to have higher BMIs and peak at younger ages, increasing their chance of developing type 2 diabetes sooner. Type 1 diabetes is also more likely to develop in those with additional chromosomes and immune system problems.
Dr. Li Chan, senior author, Reader in Molecular Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist at Queen Mary University of London said: “This study highlights the importance of early screening for diabetes and weight issues in people with Down Syndrome, especially children, and young adults.” “Currently there is a sizeable gap in research into the condition, which affects around 40,000 people in the UK. To help plug this gap in knowledge, we are conducting further research into how genetics affects a person with Down Syndrome’s predisposition to diabetes and obesity, and hope to shed further light on this important medical issue.”
Professor Andre Strydom, corresponding author, Professor in Intellectual Disabilities at King’s College London said: “This is the largest study ever conducted in Down Syndrome patients to show that they have unique needs with regards to diabetes and obesity, and that screening and intervention- including a healthy diet and physical activity at younger ages is required compared to the general population.”
The results will help to inform the work of NHSE’s LeDeR program to reduce inequalities and premature mortality in people with Down Syndrome and learning disabilities.